Sustainable preservation is about achieving the best possible preservation of
collections with the least possible consumption of energy and other resources.
The cost of energy to heat, cool, and dehumidify can be a significant portion of an institutional budget, and a
necessary investment for collecting institutions obligated to provide the best stewardship possible to the materials
in their collections. Finding the appropriate balance between preservation and resource allocation goals is a
process unique to each institution, based on their specific situation.
How to achieve it:
A number of factors must be taken into account to achieve sustainable preservation:
Reliable data: Data from collection spaces and mechanical systems collected for at least a year
can show how a building responds to the typical range of environmental parameters.
Team approach: It is important to have support and input from all colleagues with a role in
environmental management, including expertise in the collection materials, mechanical systems, and building
envelope to inform the establishment of realistic, sustainable parameters with the most preservation benefit.
Research: Many years of experience working with different cultural institutions and decades of
experimental work in the laboratory provide information on what collections experience in different environments
and what energy-saving techniques may be possible.
Experimentation: Achieving sustainable preservation is a process, not a single project. One
strategy may be tried, and require adjustment or point to another issue that needs to be addressed. As time goes
on, the collection, the spaces, the mechanical systems, the building envelope, and institutional goals will
change and, with this, the environmental management program must constantly be evaluated.
How can I learn more?
Information on upcoming webinars and recordings of past webinars, with guidelines for those interested in
starting or further developing their environmental management program
Information on upcoming workshops hosted around the country for those institutions ready to take the next steps
into investigating energy-saving strategies in their mechanical system operation
Explore A list of supplemental resources as well as relevant publications offered by the Image
Permanence Institute are available. Please visit the Image Permanence Institute’s
website to learn more about our research, past projects, and environmental management tools.