2021 > 2025

Promotor(s) : Belspo

Researcher(s) : Sustainability Unit

Energy reduction in Cultural Heritage Institutions is a hot topic. However, due to the diversity of the types of buildings, collections, and outdoor climates, taking sustainable decisions is easier said than done. Climate2Preserv is a project that aims at developing a protocol that helps cultural institutions explore different energy saving strategies considering their collections, building, systems and more. The project contributes to the ongoing international efforts on preventive conservation and environmental sustainability.

Museums face difficult choices as they respond to conflicting mandates to lower operating costs and energy consumption, and to preserve collections. Driven originally by loans policies that imposed strict environmental guidelines – unfortunately extended to preservation practices – cultural institutions often invest in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems with high associated operating costs and energy consumption. Today, new developments in preventive conservation, take into account both the preventive conservation and environmental sustainability objectives of cultural institutions, advocating for loosening these environmental guidelines. Indeed, risk analysis often points out that incorrect temperature and relative humidity (two out of ten agents of deterioration representing the full risk spectrum in preventive conservation) generally do not represent the biggest risk. But these revised guidelines are only slowly taken up by the heritage field.

Despite the existence of many tools for improving the preventive conservation and environmental sustainability conditions of collections facilities, to this day there has been no study that provides a comprehensive roadmap for sustainable storage and exhibition spaces. Being a popular topic today, environmental sustainability has been addressed by the different disciplines engaged in this project (preventive conservation, architecture, engineering, etc.) But not translated into a multidisciplinary practice and a common language within a heritage context.

The various partners will bring their expertise for the improvement of collections management with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and the involvement of stakeholders. The C2P toolbox offers the necessary tools to engage in an environmental optimization process: the C2P protocol (a step-by-step guide), assessment tools for measuring (potential) impacts of mitigation strategies, and communication tools to facilitate collaborative work. All this to help the user design and implement immediate indoor climate optimization measures or prepare the groundwork for a long-term improvement trajectory for his/her collections infrastructures.