Recently the newly renovated Harvard University Museums earned the LEED Gold Certification from USGBC. The Institution itself has made an impressive commitment to sustainability, so we would expect no less when it comes to their museums. The most innovative and poignant strategy are their super-efficient LED lightbulbs.
As noted by Harvard and numerous other cultural institutions, lighting is one of the toughest sustainability challenges to tackle. Peter Atkinson, the museums’ director of facilities planning and capital management had to work closely with the preservation department to insure that the energy efficient LED’s would provide high-quality, consistent color rendering for displaying the artwork. Not an easy problem to solve, it took months of testing and attentive analysis.
As all museum professionals know light damage to works of art remains a serious concern. “The energy of light not only causes fading and changes the color of pigments, but also catalyzes chemical reactions that lead to deterioration of paper, cloth, leather, and other materials that give works their structural integrity.” Harvard was able to install LED’s to around 2,000 fixtures, lighting the entire collection as well as eliminating the excess heat that incandescent bulbs give off. So all in all by making the switch to LED’s, Harvard has been able to lower energy costs, increase efficiency and reduce physical waste. The University’s vendor has already reported a significant uptick in requests to use them in other museum settings, a great sign for other institutions wanting to take the plunge.