Sustainable Practices

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This page is maintained by members of AIC's Sustainability Committee.

The Sustainability Committee was founded in August 2008 as the Green Task Force (GTF) with the initial mission to evaluate U.S. conservators’ current awareness of sustainability and how we are working towards more appropriate practices in institutions and private businesses. In September 2010 the GTF became a committee called the Committee for Sustainable Conservation Practices (CSCP). In July 2013 the CSCP renamed itself to the Sustainability Committee to clarify our objectives, to appeal to a wider audience, and to increase its visibility.

The committee charge is as follows:

  • Provide resources for AIC members and other caretakers of cultural heritage regarding environmentally sustainable approaches to preventive care and other aspects of conservation practice. Resources may be provided via electronic media, workshops, publications and presentations.
  • Define Research topics and suggest working groups as needed to explore sustainable conservation practices and new technologies.

The information in the pages listed below has been gathered by the committee and is continuously updated. Contact the SC at [email protected] with any questions, comments, or tips on sustainability and the conservation or historic and artistic works.

Introduction to Sustainability

What is Sustainability?
The Importance of Sustainability
Sustainability and your institutional mandate
Sustainability and professional codes of ethics and guidelines for practice
Sustainability and the Conservation Specialties
Starting a Sustainability Committee At Your Institution
Funding for Sustainability
Related Organizations

Sustainable Material Use and Disposal

Thinking about Sustainability and Material Use in Conservation
Where to Begin: Finding Information About Specific Materials
General Tips for Sustainable Material Use
Reuse Materials
Material Use in Renovations
Waste Management
Recycling Materials
Hazardous Waste Management
Certification, Seals, Organizations
Additional Resources
Creating Housing
Exhibition Cases

Information about Specific Materials

Information About Specific Treatments in Conservation
Information About Specific Chemicals in Conservation
Information about Plastics
Information about Papers and Boards
Paper Found in Conservation Labs and its Recyclability
Information about Conservation Supplies and Tools
Information about Crates
Information about Water
Water Purification and Sustainability
Water Use in Conservation
Reducing Water Use in Conservation
TABLE: 11 Commonly Used Solvents by Stavroudis
TABLE: Preferred, Useable, and Undesirable Solvent by Alfonsi et al.

Sustainable Energy Use

Thinking about Sustainability and Energy Use
Climate Control, Heating, and Air Conditioning
Environmental Controls
Office and Lab Equipment
Lighting Choices
Energy-Efficient Lighting Control Strategies
Case Studies: Sustainability and Energy Use

Sustainability Case Studies

The American Institute for Conservation
Mary Gridley of Cranmer Art Group
The Indianapolis Museum of Art
University of Pittsburgh
New York Public Library

Publications and Projects by the Sustainability Committee

AIC Newsletter Articles

Beginning the Green Task Force This page is based on two articles published in AIC News in July and September 2008.
"When the Well’s Dry, We Know the Worth of Water" This page is based on an article published in AIC News: Nunberg, Sarah. (2011) "When the Well’s Dry, We Know the Worth of Water." AICNews 36(2): 12-13.
Plastics are Forever: Wraps, Tools, Films and Containers used in Conservation Practice This page is based on an article published in AIC News in 2011.
Hazardous Waste: Where on Earth Should it Go? by Denise Stockman with contributions from members of the AIC Committee on Sustainable Conservation Practice. This article was originally published in Vol. 38 No. 2 of AIC News, March 2013, pg. 12-15.
Can White Paper be Green? by Melissa Tedone and Robin Ohern, published in AIC News, September 2013, Vol. 38, No. 5, pg. 9-11.
An Introduction to How the Manufacturing and Disposal of Adhesives and Paints Affects our Environment by Robin O’Hern, Geneva Griswold, Mary Elizabeth Haude, and Jia-sun Tsang as part of The Sustainability Committee, May 2015, Vol. 40, No. 3, pg. 14-17
Sustaining the Unsustainable: Mitigation and Monitoring for Modern Materials By Whitney Baker, Kelly McCauley, and Jia-sun Tsang for the AIC Sustainability Committee, September 2015, published in AIC News
Dangerous Detergents? Health and Safety answers for surfactant questions by Laura Mina and Geneva Griswold, May 2017, published in AIC News
Museum-Quality and Sustainable by Christian Hernandez, September 2017, published in AIC News


Green Task Force Survey Summary Report Presented at the Issue Session of AIC's 37th Annual Meeting on May 21, 2009, Los Angeles, CA by Patricia Silence, Chair
Green Task Force 2010 AIC Presentation
Sustainable Practices 2011 Survey Results This page is based on an article published in AICNews in 2012.
Lunch session at 40th Annual Meeting. "Linking the Environment and Heritage Conservation: Presentations, Tips, and Discussions"
Life Cycle Assessment Project (LCA)
5.8 Life Cycle Assessments: Lighting, HVAC, Loans, and Treatments poster presented at the 42nd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, May 2014
Tips Sheet for Emerging Conservation Professionals handout for students and emerging conservation professionals, updated in 2018


Cost Effective and Sustainable Packing, Moving, and Storage coordinated by Geneva Griswald and Christian Hernandez on December 1, 2015
Examining the Environmental Impact of Exhibitions and Loans using the Life Cycle Assessment Tool coordinated by Sarah Nunberg on December 8, 2015

AIC Annual Conference Program

6.1 2012 Annual Conference Program 40th Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, NM
6.2 2013 Annual Conference Program 41st Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN
6.3 2014 Annual Conference Program 42nd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA
6.4 2015 Annual Conference Program 43rd Annual Meeting in Miami, FL
6.5 2016 Annual Conference Program 44th Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada
6.6 2017 Annual Conference Program 45th Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL

Works Cited and Further Reading

Works Cited and Further Reading