Sustainability Consultancy for Cultural Institutions


#AAM2016 Follow Up & @PICGreen SEA Awards

aamexpoHere is a recap of the PIC Green Events at AAM 2016 Conference and Expo. First, all the events and sessions were an overwhelming success! So, it shows there is a definite growing interest to learn how to make your institution more sustainable.
We had the following sessions:
1. Energy Efficient Cold Storage
2. Future Choices – Best Practices for Profession
3. Environmental Sustainability – Power, Influence and Responsibility
4. Stages of Sustainability
5. Sustainability Sins

picOur winners for the SEA (Sustainability Excellence Awards) for the following categories: Facilities, Programs and Exhibits were as follows:

usbotanicAnd the field trip to the US Botanic Garden was educational and bursting with sustainable initiatives, we even received our very own instruction manual for teaching. Check out the Sustainable SITES Initiative!

The Expo had a few highlights, but I have to mention the Virtual Reality Booth by SimWave Consulting in Canada. If you are an interactive museum, then you are going to want to keep an eye on their technology.

And a huge thank you to the Natural History Museum for letting us use their booth and partnering up in many ways moving forward!

Until next year in St. Louis…..keep up the green momentum!




Virginia Living Museum Installs Solar

It is important to note that the term “green museums” encompasses a wide range of educational institutions. We tend to think of sustainable measures being implemented in just art museums, but in fact that is not the case. The purpose of this blog and our company is show that all cultural/living/historic institutions can save money, become more efficient and act as models leading the way in green building.

VLM Deputy Director Fred Farris talking about solar panel installation.

VLM Deputy Director Fred Farris with solar installation.

The Virginia Living Museum, home to over 250 species of animals and plants found throughout Virginia, just installed 165 solar panels on a southern exposure. It is a bold move, spokeswoman Virginia Gabriele says, “is not only to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint and its electric bill, but to educate visitors on solar power and even encourage them to try it at home.” The installation when it is up and running, is expected to save the museum more than $5,000 in electricity costs in its first year, plus prevent the release of more than 41 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. The project will be unveiled during the Museum’s Earth Day Celebration on April 20th.

These kind of projects require funds that usually museums don’t possess. This particular one was funded with a $150,000 grant from Dominion Virginia Power’s charitable foundation and nearly $15,000 donated by Bay Electric Co., which installed the panels. Dominion is Virginia largest power company and according to Glen Besa, Virginia director of the Sierra Club, the state of Virginia continues to fall behind because Dominion isn’t making a “serious commitment to bringing job-creating solar, wind and energy efficiency to our state.” Let’s hope that Dominion partnering up Virginia Living Museum helps to change that outlook. Virginia itself happens to fall among the bottom 25 states in terms of solar power in a survey Solar Energy Industries Association.

All in all the museum is thrilled to have a new energy source and a new educational outlet. Fred Farris, the museum’s deputy executive director, says the “solar array has the potential to be an impressive educational display in support of alternative energy, due both to its size and its placement in close contact with the public. Not only will guests be learning about solar generation of electricity, but they will also get to see and learn about the incredible source of that energy: our sun.” Kudos to the Living Museum for making a commitment to a more sustainable future, I’m sure the animals and plans would be thrilled if they knew!

Living Green in the Watershed Exhibit

Living Green in the Watershed Exhibit


California Academy Of Sciences: The Mother of Green Musuems

I’ve always been a fan of Italian architect, Renzo Piano and he didn’t disappoint with his renowned California Academy of Sciences building. Last September I was in San Francisco and made a point of visiting the institution. If you are a fan of green building and museums, this is considered the mother-ship. I’d have to say  for me the most impressive aspect was the 4-story rainforest, you truly felt like you were transported to a real one. As you walk in you are enveloped by the humid, moist air and surrounded by a cacophony of sounds and sights from croaking trees frogs to beautiful, lush tropical plants.

cal adam facaed

The building itself earned it’s second LEED Platinum award back in September 2011. The Academy’s operations and maintenance practices were evaluated again and earned points across six different categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design process. The institution has many attributes ranging from their living roof with 6″ of soil for insulation, the 60,000 pv cells to generate 10% of the Academy’s electricity needs or the 70% of staff using alternative transportation to commute to work – this is just to mention a few. Overall, the Academy sets the bar for  cultural institutions and namely natural history museums. It is something of an aspiration for all those interested in this field of sustainability and green museums.

Living roof

They also just unveiled a rare octopus species, a larger striped Pacific octopus. If it is so rare, I’m sort of wondering how they got it? But it comes under the weird and wonderful category because it’s mates pressing their suckers and beaks together, as well as morphing colors and shape shifting! Now, that is something to see and they say her mate is coming soon!


Summit on Sustainability Standards in Museums

The initiative to green museums has been gaining some ground in the past few years and it continues to grow. This year at the Annual  American Alliance of Museums Conference, the PIC Green Committee will be hosting a 3-part session on “Sustainability Standards for Museums.” (To learn more put in “summit” in the search field.) ” The program will be covering where we are, what we have accomplished and finally deciding the next steps for advancing the field.

The session is divided into 3-parts, the first part will look at LEED, Living Buildings, Sustainable Sites and the EPA’s EnergyStar programs.  The second will examine the experiences of various institutions with the above sustainability measures by highlighting the pros and cons. And lastly, the third part will analyze the present data we have and help to guide us in the right direction to increase sustainability awareness for all cultural institutions. The sessions are held on Tuesday, May 21 from 8:45am – 3:00pm with a break for lunch.

If you are looking for ways to help your cultural institution become more sustainable this is the place to learn more. You’ll be able to hear from professionals in the field with real first-hand experience on what works specific to museums. All museum staff can benefit from learning how to use less energy, create less waste, implement viable sustainability measures and create an all around better environment for visitors, staff and collections.