Full Transcript for the June 2023 Conservation with Sarah Lewery, Elie Hughes, and Deborah Walton.

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Conversations with Change Makers, June 2023

Icon Sustainability Network & AIC Sustainability Committee - Small Museums

Sarah Lewery, Elie Hughes, and Deborah Walton with Lorraine Finch


In June of 2023, Lorraine Finch, Chair of The Institute of Conservation’s (ICON) Sustainability Network discussed strategies used in small museums to reduce energy consumption with Elie Hughes, Curator at the Ely Museum, and Deborah Walton, Regional Conservation Officer at the University Cambridge Museums.

Sarah Lewery, who is a conservator at the Churchill Archives, also participated in the discussion via a pre-recorded presentation discussing their trial switch off.

Lorraine Finch has been working in the field of conservation for 27 years. Lorraine founded LF Conservation and Preservation in 2003 which is accelerating climate and environmental action in cultural heritage through knowledge sharing, resource creation and training, and provides conservation and preservation services. Lorraine is an accredited conservator specializing in the conservation and preservation of archives, focusing on photographs, film and sound. Lorraine is also a certified carbon literate and is an accredited Carbon Literacy trainer.

This webinar was a joint effort between the AIC Sustainability Committee, in collaboration with the Icon Sustainability Network.

0:00 Introduction

1:32 Introduction to Sarah Lewery

1:54 Introduction to Deborah Walton

2:32 Introduction to Eli Hughes

3:04 Presentation by Sarah Lewery, Conservator, Churchill Archives

3:20 Building construction (old BSI 5454 and new PD5454 and PAS 198)

4:20 Initial switching power off

4:42 Second switch off

4:54 Modifications made and monitoring collections and environment

6:52 1973 Strongroom

9:38 New wing

11:15 Are we going too cold?

12:35 Lessons learned

14:42 Q & A: Sarah Lewery. Using monitors in boxes

16:28 Q & A: Sarah Lewery. Publishing the results of the project

17:38 Q & A: Sarah Lewery. Did things go as expected after AC shut off?

19:41: Q & A: Sarah Lewery. Assessing cost savings

20:43: Q & A: Sarah Lewery. Impact of opening doors

22:25: Q & A: Elie Hughes. Sustainability during refurbishment

24:29: Q & A: Elie Hughes. Giving away material

26:05: Q & A: Deborah Walton. Work outline and experiences in energy reduction in museums

34:10: Q & A: Acceptable speed of change

37:41: Q & A: Night and day shifts

38:50: Q & A: Heat pumps in museums

43:21: Q & A: Elie Hughes. Building dates

43:21: Q & A: Elie Hughes. Building dates

43:42: Q & A: Elie Hughes. Relationship with architects

44:07: Q & A: Comments on heat pumps from audience

45:21: Q & A: Biggest challenge in energy reduction in small museums

45:55: Q & A: Elie Hughes. Funding for sustainability

45:45: Q & A: Elie Hughes. How could funding be improved

47:33: Q & A: Heating and drying a poorly insulated building

54:13: Q & A: Sarah Lewery. Boxes and packaging material

56:44: Closing remarks

Links in chat during webinar:

https://www.spab.org.uk/advice  Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings  

https://www.spab.org.uk/advice/research/findings  specifically thermal performance of solid walls https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/training-skills/training/webinars/technical-tuesdays/





https://www.historicenvironment.scot/archives-and-research/publications/publication/?publicationId=843d0c97-d3f4-4510-acd3-aadf0118bf82  examples of risk assessments

*Please note that transcript has been edited for legibility *

(00:00 Introduction)

Lorraine Finch (LF): Today we have Sarah Lewery who is going to start with a pre-recorded slide presentation. So we'll do that. That's about 15 minutes long and we'll follow that immediately afterwards with questions for Sarah so please as you're watching it you can pop your questions in the Q and A and we'll keep an eye on that and we'll ask Sarah your questions and if anybody wants to ask their questions directly please raise your hand and I can unmute you and you can talk. Then we're going to have a panel discussion with Deborah Walton and Elie Hughes and that's going to be talking about energy saving measures within small museums.

Now the reason for doing this today is I find in my experience that what happens is we quite often have discussions and we invite all of the big names you know from the large organizations and large institutions and the small museums tend to be forgotten. So today we are righting that wrong. And also the thing is with bigger institutions that have more resources [you] can't necessarily within a small Museum actually replicate that.

So I'm going to do the introduction. So I'm going to say hello myself. So for those of you who don't know me, my name is Lorraine. I am chair of the Institute of Conservation and joining me today is Sarah Potter as co-host and Sarah is looking after our website and the resources pages, so if you have any resources, then Sarah will be the person that is putting them on our website for us on our web page.

Let me introduce to you Sarah, Ellie, and Deborah. So Sarah after completing a history degree at Lancaster University, she qualified as an Archive Conservator through the Society of Archivist’s Conservation Training scheme in 1994, while she was working at Cheshire Records Office and she became conservator at Churchill Archive Center in 1999 and then Senior Conservator in 2018.

Deborah Walton has an MA in Conservation of Historic Objects, Archeology from Durham University and has worked for the Fitzwilliam Museum, National Trust, Royal Institution, Science Museum, and Imperial War Museum on a variety of preventive, advisory,interventive, and decant projects. She has worked for the University of Cambridge Museums as a Regional Conservation Officer since 2009. Working in close association with the regional development network, SHARE Museums East, to improve collections care and conservation provision locally.

And Elie Hughes … hello Elie. Elie has led Ely museum for many years, most recently through a National Lottery Heritage Fund funded redevelopment. She has a BA in Archeology and [an MA Studies in] an MA in Museum Studies. She acts as a Museum Mentor for the Arts Council England Accreditation Scheme.

So those are all of our wonderful people, and Sarah if you'd please share Sarah's presentation that would be fabulous. Thank you.

Sarah Potter (SP): So let me know if you can hear.

(3:04 Presentation by Sarah Lewery, Conservator, Churchill Archives)

Sarah Lewery (SL): Hello I'm Sarah Laurie from Churchill Archive Center and I'm going to talk to you briefly about the efforts we've been making to improve our energy consumption in our storage areas since 2013. So both our areas, old and new, have been constructed to perform to the old BSI 5454 and the now [...] But in 2012, the new PD5454 came out and in conjunction with the PAS 198 it significantly relaxed the parameters of the temperature and humidity we should be aiming at and so from this point on the recommendation was 13 to 20 degrees C and within 35 to 60 percent RH, which was quite an important change for us and we try to act upon it. So we contacted Dr. Tim Padfield who was incredibly generous, came to look at our buildings. So you can see on the right there, our old 1973 strong room on the left of [the] 2002 complicated New Wing. And he wrote a report for us and basically gave us the confidence to have a go. So by the time we got everything ready it was late May 2013, and we switched off, but obviously that was a very bad time to be starting and I did lose my nerve and it all went a little bit wrong. It started to warm up, then when we plant back on, it of course didn't work properly because it didn't like being switched off and all of that kind of thing. So a few more months elapsed and then we started again in October 2013 and we more or less switched off until April 2014.

(4:54 Sarah discusses modifications made and monitoring collections and environment)

So what we did during this time and with recommendations of Tim, we did a few things differently; one of which was to monitor inside the boxes rather than monitor the room itself so we could see exactly what was going on with the collection. So you can see on the left here there's a dummy box which is on the shelves with normal [on normal] Collections and then you can see inside the box with lots of typical papers of our collections.

We also wanted to see two levels and this was mainly to reassure ourselves  that it was staying safe for people even though we'd shut off the forced ventilation and we'd shut down the fresh air intakes. [And] on the right is a little gadget that we used to monitor the number of door openings to see how much impact that kind of thing had on the environments.

We also made other adjustments through this sort of time and afterwards. For example, using some foil insulation on a cold outside wall which I'll talk about later. Importantly, we also disabled the humidity bottles in both our plants and so when we were actually running the air conditioning at times we were not pumping in any humidity. There's really no need to add humidity into an archive collection.

We also made adjustments so we had periodic switching off and on as well as long periods off. So this is just an image of our BMS showing the newer New Wing area and how we can program it to be off all the time, on all the time, or running for certain times of day. So during the  working day or overnight and that kind of thing, which we did use. Bit more difficult in the old Strongroom which is manual.

In our 1973 Strongroom, the most significant thing and actually this is true for the New Wing as well was that within the boxes the tiny tanks were showing us that [the] whatever the temperature was going on outside, the RH stayed very very stable most of the time, between 50 and 55 range. The collection itself was acting as the humidity buffer in combination with all these layers of good cellulose, cellulosic packaging boxing.

We did however have a bit of a problem in the coldest part of winter because of the way that the shelves had been constructed right up to the cold outside wall in the old Strongroom. What happened was that the conditions in the books therefore dropped by about two degrees C compared to the rest of the room and the RH rose correspondingly and by about six percent RH although [they never] it never got over 60 RH and so this presented a problem particularly for the risk to the physical safety of or photographic collections.

So this just illustrates that trend. So from October to November 2013, this shows right at the beginning on the left when the air conditioning was still just on, the conditions near the outside wall and in the middle of the room were very close, extremely close, and then they diverged quite quickly over the course of this graph. So you can see the difference in RH, higher RH, lower temperature near that cold wall. In the summer we had a bit of a problem as well [with the new] with this old Strongroom in that because it was actually a good insulated, good solid space, but it heated up quite rapidly from the offices, and the plant room in particular below it, and being well insulated didn't lose it. So [we would] we were going to the upper end quite quickly. This graph actually shows you from late January to late April this year and I showed it because it's a show how nice and stable things are with the air conditioning off, but it also shows you just that gradual increase in temperature from around kind of 14 early on to kind of 18 … and at this point in time [now we] about two weeks ago we had to switch the air conditioning back on during the day in the Strongroom just to keep it now below 23 degrees C.

The New Wing’s a different kettle of fish in that it's a big overcomplicated space. This picture on the right shows you. It consists of four floors. That's looking down the stairwell from the top floor and it isn't well insulated in all places, it's very leaky, so it responded very much more readily to the outside conditions than the old Strongroom. The RH was more erratic but that was I mean actually in the room rather than in the boxes but we were responding to the BMS so it's the room sensors in terms of when we switched on and off but in the boxes things were much more stable.

And then in 2017, the BS 4971 came out which widened the parameters further. In particular the upper end of the temperature range, 23 degrees C now, which was really helpful for us. Which meant we felt we could leave the air conditioning off for longer as we entered into summer and still feel safe and in the knowledge that the annual average would be 18 or below, and I'm very confident that is the case because we are now very confident about leaving the air conditioning off for long periods of time especially in the winter, things get very cold, but I feel confident now about that.

So are we going too cold? I am aiming for kind-of 13 degrees C, but I know that sometimes we go below that particularly, it's that cold wall. But I'm not too worried about it for our general collections particularly because the risk of condensation going into the reading room is mitigated by the fact that we now have pre-ordering of documents. Everything is well packaged as well as you can see on the trolly there, so things come out of the Strongroom on the trolley in their packaging which has a you know absorptive capacity, and then they warm up slowly before the readers actually open packages so I'm not so worried about that. I'm worried more about the fact that we are compromising, potentially compromising, the physical safety of the photographs near that cold wall. The foil didn't make any difference really and so what we've now done is to move any collections that contain significant amounts of photographs from those shelves and there you can see there some empty shelves near that wall so we're responding to the conditions in the room depending on what we've got in our collections and that's made me feel a lot happier about going to nice low temperatures

(12:35 Sarah shares lessons learned)

So the Lessons Learned really I would say are that we should be brave and use those wide parameters that we've been given and I think once you do it and you realize particularly the humidity, you know if you realize or find that the humidity isn't a problem, you just feel a lot more confident as time goes on. Think about the particular sensitivities of your collection items and store them accordingly. So as I said, I didn't worry so much about the lower temperature because we don't have seals and then I dealt with that cold wall by moving the photo collections away from it. Disable your humidity bottle, I would say. In an archive, you know a fairly well  looked after archive, well packaged archive, you're never going to need to humidify it. If you have that mass of material which is acting as a buffer. You probably will need dehumidification as time goes on but you don't need to add humidity I think and then you reduce your energy consumption hugely. And shut off pressure intakes if you're confident, airtight is important. Monitoring boxes, that's important because it will give you very different results from the monitor on a wall in the room, and it's also very reassuring. And use the data set from your  monitoring with your air conditioning off to inform building improvements and that's where we're at now and we're actually lucky enough to be working with Archetype Architects on this and so now I have a lot of data I can give them straight away with how the room is performing in different parts of the

room with no air conditioning and hopefully they will help us with insulation as well as improving the existing plant that we have. I hope that's helpful thank you

(14:42 Q & A with Sarah Lewery)

LF: Thank you very much Sarah, that was really interesting. I'm going to open it to the floor first of all and ask anybody if they have any questions. Would you like to type your question in the Q a box please?

I'm going to ask you a question whilst I give people a chance to do that. So Sarah, when you said about monitoring in the boxes how many monitors did you have in boxes?

SL: Probably about 10. You could do with more really to see exactly what's happening in all areas, but I kind of knew where the difficult points might be like that cold wall so I just spread around the room really to get different ends of the room; cold walls, anything like that … but yeah you could as many as you can really. It's probably the most

useful thing but …

LF: How long did you leave them in there for?

SL: We download them every three months. So they're not giving us remote readings, we have to download. So we're seeing it, you know, in retrospect and we're carrying on with that, as well we find those readings far more useful than the BMS readings, but obviously the BMS readings for us are instant so they give us a guide to what's going on.

LF: So have you moved them around into different boxes or do you keep them within the boxes that you originally decided on?

SL: They tend to stay in those same dummy boxes. We've adjusted them a little bit over time so you know to one quarter or um different different areas on the two outside walls actually that's mainly in the strong room that  we've done more strategic moving around  in the New Wing there is lots of space around shelving so it's great in that respect so it's more like getting two ends of the room on all four floors but a little bit of moving around but we kind of know now I think where the dodgy, dodgy area

LF: Well I have quite a few questions have popped in so I shall go through them in order. So Al Carver Kubrick has asked, have you published the results of this project? at the IPI, the Image Permanence Institute, we did a very similar study experimentally and found that the hygroscopic materials do self-buffer. This is such a great case study.

SL: Yes yeah, I mean that's. We haven't done any publishing on it, it's just something that's become more and more obvious really through this process, and then hearing other people talk as well. But the collection itself is the buffer and it's hugely important, not something I really realized early on in my working life, because it was so air conditioning led, you know. Everything was led by that. So it is a fantastic quality of archive collections that we have. It is amazing, I guess.

LF: Can we encourage you to publish?

SL: Possibly a small piece of it, yeah. I mean it would be good to, yeah to do something if somebody can you know let me know exactly what what it is they want yeah we could certainly try and contribute something.

LF: Brilliant. Thank you. So, David Saunders asks, did things go as expected when you turned off the air conditioning after periods when you felt it was unnecessary?

SL: So like I sort of said in the presentation, I mean the obvious times are the most tricky so from now on, which you know .. sort of yeah, late May onwards … I think the summer is the most tricky time winter is more … I can't remember now because we've been doing it so long and I know kind of what's going on. It was more than I think it was just scary because it was new at the beginning and as I say we did start at a stupid time, at the end of May. So if you are going to stop doing this I would say yeah, kind of October is probably a better time to start because you're generally going into better conditions anyway. It's lovely to know that the temperature's low if nothing else, just that everything's slowing down in terms of deterioration. So it was sort of predictable. I mean the worst thing about it in the early days I think was the air conditioning itself. So the fact that we turned it off and then that fear that oh God you know it's been off for a few weeks What's it gonna be like when it gets switched back on and that that fear was realized actually. But then, you know one of the problems with air  conditioning as probably everybody knows, is it's constantly getting wrong so it creates problems and stress all along. So one of the best things about having everything off is just not thinking about it at all apart from just  obviously checking the conditions. But knowing the air conditioning is up and especially kind of over the Christmas holidays and things, knowing that that's just not, you know, doing its thing mechanically and electrically in the background, is quite reassuring as well. But yeah, pretty much, that's really interesting.

LF: That’s really interesting. I’ve got more questions than we actually have time here until the end of the session. So I'll ask two more and then we'll move on, but if you’d like to hang around then I can always ask you the other questions. So Lisa Oldham has asked, have you been able to assess cost savings?

SL: That we haven't and mainly because we're working through the maintenance department here and we haven't got meters on different bits of equipment. So it's impossible to you know, break it up from the rest of the energy we're using for our general offices and Reading Room and everything. So sadly, no. It's something I've asked but it's you know, getting that through to the maintenance department then into actions is very difficult, so I can't unfortunately say but honestly we have long periods, months, of not running anything. So it must be having a really big impact and of course the air conditioning we do have is really crude, so it's not an efficient system. So it's  just good to know it's off, but sadly no, I can't put any figures on it. Sorry about that

LF: Oh so that's the next study then?

SL: yes I need to I need to work on the maintenance department you know what it's like it's just getting these things to happen through all the layers of communication that's yeah it's the difficulty but yeah

LF: So one final question for you from Chris Taft. He asked, how much impact does having people in and out of the space make? You mentioned monitoring the opening of the doors.

SL: Very little from those door openings. At the time, I think the door was being opened to the mainstream like 200 times a day or something and you could see the temperature go up by about a degree during the day compared to what it was at the weekend but that was all and that had no impact really on the humidity as you'd expect in an archive. So very little I would say in our experience (unintelligible - 00: 21:20).

LF: Well that's brilliant. Thank you very much Sarah. As I say, I know that we keep you talking for the rest of the session. The questions are popping in and  popping in. The more you speak, the more questions we're getting. But I will open it up to Ellie and Deborah as well and Sarah if you want to come back on camera please do and join in the discussion. And thank you other Sarah for your fantastic presentation and please hang around as I say, and feel free to answer any of the questions that are being asked now and we maybe go back to some of those questions that were asked earlier. So thank you.

(2:56 Q & A with Elie Hughes and Deborah Walton)

LF: So Elle and Deborah, and again everybody who's participating in this today and watching, please do ask your questions because we all get more out of it the more you ask your questions and actually what we're here for today is to answer your questions. So we pre-prepared a few just to get kick things off and get the ball rolling, but if you then step in and ask all of your questions that would be absolutely fabulous and then, as I say, we all get the best of this experience.

So I'm going to start by asking Elie a question, because Ellie I know and I said in the introduction that you had the refurbishment. TThe refurbishment was in 2019 and you reopened in 2021, so what steps did you take before and during the refurbishment to act sustainably?

Elie Hughes (EH): Thanks Lorraine. I think the key choice that we made initially was in our choice of architect. So we went for an architect that shared our sustainable values and wanted to look at the project holistically and see how sustainable we could make it both in terms of the building project itself but also for the long term. With that architect we took an approach that: what do we already have and what can we reuse? So we have a wonderful historic building that is actually really quite good at keeping nice, temperate environmental conditions. So we wanted to keep that. Obviously, we did extend the building but the majority of the fabric is existing. And then we thought about what do we actually need, you know, not what do we assume that we need. So the architect did come in and said, “well you know you're a museum, you'll need some air conditioning won't you?” and I said “no, we might not”. We've not had any before. So our old building didn't have any air conditioning. We just had localized dehumidificatiion and heating. The building and the collections have coped very well with that over the years. So what we did was plan a building that could breathe naturally, had some air movement control, but not air conditioning. Had heating that we could control in a localized manner so that we could keep the staff warm, while not worrying too much about the collection store, which didn't really need to be too high during the winter. So it's meant we've got a high degree of management of our building environment so we can change things and adapt it and over the past two years that's been really useful in just tweaking things as we go forward. So yeah, choice of architects, what do we actually need and what have we already got, and then that ability to change things so not setting up a system that all runs as one. Making sure that we can change small elements of it. We also very early on decided we don't have gas at the museum at all and we decided not to add a gas connection. So that was another important choice that we made quite early on.

LF: That's amazing. And I do remember your actions beforehand, were materials that you no longer required you actually gave away. Do you want to say a little bit more about that, whatyou did beforehand?

EH: So both in a slightly larger scale and smaller scale. So we contacted museums within our networks and asked if anybody would like our old museum cases, and equipment, and materials, and things. We had a massive clear out and that was great. Lots of museums came and picked things up and made better use of them. And then on a really small scale, so things like, you know, chairs and shelves, and you know, polythene pockets that you put documents in, we had loads of those and we put those all on the kind of local giving-away site. I can't think of what it's called, on social media, and just said to the general public can anybody make use of this? And we got rid of almost everything. I think we had one small car load that went to the tip in the end of things that were so broken and unusable that everything else went on to a better place.

LF: oh that's absolutely incredible because if you think about the amount of stuff that's in a museum not just the collection but all of the other stuff it's a bit like when you pak to move and you don't realize how much you've got so to be able to to only have one small car load that went to the tip I know it's a fantastic Endeavor

So I'm going to ask Deborah a question now. So Deborah, can you outline your work and your experiences of what museums are doing to reduce their emissions and energy usage?

Deborah Walton (DW): Sorry, I'd covered my mute button. That was helpful. Let me get rid of the Q & A because it's bright, hovering. So I advise small, original museums, of which Ellie's museum has been one, I'm sure she has been delighted. And the museums generally are in older buildings. I've been trying to think of one that's later than 1960s and I can't. So generally older stock and some of them hundreds of years old. And so one of the things that we've been working with really is how do you work in a building that's older and sometimes the building is considered to be a historic object in its own right. So that's kind of one of the challenges. So you're reducing energy usage but you're also considering a historic building as well. And we're also working in an area where we've got money in some parts. So we have Cambridge as a city which has some money, but then there's also areas of socio and economic deprivation, so we've had to be quite inventive and we've had to be quite frugal in the advice and the spending that we've been able to do for some of the sites. And obviously we always want to be economical, but there are some sites where you just can't be talking about spending lots of money. So we've always had to be very pragmatic in the kind of advice we give for collections care and for, you know, we're not going to be talking about “ah install (??) air conditioning in this barn”. it's never going to be, it's never going to happen. You're never going to raise the funds and then you're never going to be able to maintain it. But then also you would never be able to have an organization where there would be staff in post long enough to understand the system and to run it and maintain it. So there's all the things that go alongside running that kind of system are never going to be in place.

So long term we've been using guidance which I can put in the chat in a minute when I stop talking, which was developed over a decade and a half ago by two conservators who've now retired: Libby Finney and Sarah Norcross Robinson. Which have very wide parameters which are sort of 20%, sort of 40 to 60(%), or 45 to 65(%) and quite wide temperature ranges and we've been running that since mid-2000s and it's worked for all the small museum collections we've had, and you only really look at having more nuance for the more sensitive materials. So when you have cased collections, it's because you've got something that is really more sensitive like your archaeological iron work or something like that. You would maybe think about dry boxing or creating a microclimate. And you know, proof positive it's really (unintelligible 00:29:46) really quite well. So something that we're now starting to see is that these things we've had to do for reasons of pragmatism over the years, when we re-examine it through a lens of sustainability, we’re really quite good, we're quite proud of ourselves. We're patting ourselves on the back. So we can feel a little bit smug, but actually we've been ahead of the curve, but we've been able to prove that some of these things actually work. Which is really reassuring and we've now got we've got the data. We've got the evidence that this is okay to do,  it's all right. And some of the big museums who are in panic mode because they've had these very tight boundaries they've been working to GIS standards and they're really worried. Actually these much wider parameters, they're really okay, it's all right and this nuanced approach were you're looking at what is my particular material’s vulnerability, that's the right way to look at it. Is to think, have I got crystalline glass and I need 47.5 or whatever it is, humidity but that very specific thing needs. Yes look at your very specific thing, and then when you've got a domestic social history collection where most of the materials really are okay to have a slow change over much what I'd arranged, then we can relax quite a lot. So that's the kind of general collection and the general situation I've been working with.

But what we've had regionally, locally, is that a lot of our museums have been doing carbon literacy training that's been provided through a national program but then delivered locally and that's been extremely useful. It's upskilled people with a lot of the vocabulary and some more specific skills, but it's developed some local, sort of, contacts and then there's been follow-on training and groups and sort of workshop sessions, and that's been really helpful and useful. But then there's also been, kind of, local hubs of things that are going on.

So industrial heritage museums, for example. We've got a local network of heritage engineering museums and they're incredibly involved in these conversations and have been for years because if you think about it, they are all about energy generation and usage. That is what they do. We've got one that literally is called the Museum of Power. It's in Malden. It's fantastic, everyone should visit. Although they're closed for refurbishment, they have a capital project at the moment. But that's what they do, they talk about power and energy, and the staff and volunteers at these industrial museums are predominantly retired, semi-retired, or staff who are interested in engineering and related professions. So they understand power. They understand generation and management of power in a way that most museum staff are never going to do. So they are the people to talk to and we spend hours talking about: “How do we get away from fossil fuel? How do we replace fossil fuel? How do we find less damaging ways to use fuel?  To use power? To make power?”. They're having brilliant conversations and we had a presentation from the Science Museum Power Hall who are trying to run their Power Hall in a closed steam system and not use fossil fuel at all, and not use oil. They're lubricating the system without using the oi, it is mind-blowing. And they were so excited, that this entire room were about ready to walk up to the north of England to go and see it. They're even going on the train there, ready to to all get, you know get out of Prick Willow (??) and walk up there to have go, and have a look. So everyone is incredibly, incredibly enthused and excited and having conversations. I think is the thing, they're talking to each other and that's something I've been really excited to see is that everyone is stopped being sort of insular and worrying about it on a “my organization” scale but they're talking to each other and they're forming local contacts and making connections, and I think that's something that I'm seeing more and more of.

LF: I mean you're quite right, isn't it? it is that conversation and sharing … is exactly what we're doing today actually,  so saying this is my experience, this is the experience of others, I've got this  knowledge, you've got these skills, let's put it all together and we'll sort this  out, rather than working in your own little silo, that's really interesting.

I have a question that's popped in so I will ask that. It's from Nydia (??) . Hi Nydia (??), nice to see you, or not see you, but nice to know you're there. So Nydia asks, when you accept to have wider ranges you just focus on controlling the speed of the changes to keep them smooth and slow. What is the acceptable speed of change and what percentage in 24 hours? That's quite a lot to take in, you've got the Q & A in front of you. So, do you focus on controlling the speed of the change to keep them smooth and slow and what is an acceptable speed of change?

DW: Sorry, I'm trying to find the question.

LF: That's open to everyone. So anyone who wants to answer that, please feel free.

EH: I can jump in while Deborah is having a think, if you’d like. We look at our graph, is it spiky or is it not spiky? That's as simple as we do it, you know. If it's spiky, what's gone wrong? If it's not spiky, then we don't worry too much. We don't worry about specific percentages in 24 hours, it's just more of a general overview. But we know our building and we know how it works, so we know when to worry and when not to worry.

DW: So I think if you look in the various standards that are current, they do all quote slightly different acceptable periods of change. But I went to a conference recently, and I'm trying to remember which one it was. I think it was the Green Museum's Summit and there was a very, very heated argument about this. That might not been the right conference, because there were several very close together, but there were lots of international experts on this topic and there was a fight. So it's not agreed universally, you know, there's not a consensus on this at the moment and I think it's something that there will be a lot of development on. It's not something where there's been a line in the sand drawn yet. I would agree with Elie, spiky's gonna be bad. I've always personally understood and gone by, if you've got jagged shapes on  your graph, that's not going to be good and they can only be caused by mechanical change. I would like to see swoopy lines on my graph because they can only be caused by natural change. So that's what I personally go by and I'm not a material scientist, so I will wait for the material scientists to do and publish the relevant research .. but they're currently arguing.

LF:  Yes there's always an argument isn't there. Let's hope they come to a consensus as a result of their argument. So I have a question, which is another one that's popped in. So Wendy Baker (??) has asked, shifts between night and day are the worst as they are extremely rapid normally. Seasonal drift is acceptable. So anybody want to comment on that? I think that's more of a comment than a question there.

DW: Yeah, I would agree with that. I mean, I wouldn't worry at all if there's a seasonal drift. I wouldn't even comment that it's a problem. It just isn't, but if you've got 40 degrees Celsius in the day and then if your nights are really, really cold, then we've got a very uninsulated building and then maybe we want to think about doing something about the insulation in the building and increasing the buffering. But I still probably wouldn't go for mechanical intervention because as Sarah was saying earlier, when it goes wrong, it goes so very, very wrong.

LF: Yeah, yeah, I agree with you. So Paul Harrison (??) has asked us, does anyone here have experience with museums installing heat pumps? Have these started to come into museums?  Are you seeing them being installed? I have to say I haven't yet.

EH: I haven't either. Certainly been talked about some training sessions and we discussed it with our architects but our site is very enclosed and small. We don't have the space for one so it's certainly out there and being talked about but I don't know any museums where any have been installed yet.

DW: I've heard it talked about but again,  it's the power to run the pumps and the space and finding an appropriate site. I don't have anyone that's actually actioned it yet.

LF: I'm wondering if it's also something to do with, because they're generally in older buildings. It's that insulation of the building, because that has to be of a high enough standard before the heat pump is worth putting in or not. Is that correct?

DW: Something that I've come across that's been very very helpful is, I'm going to put a whole load of links. Should I put them in the chat or should I send them to you afterwards?

LF: If you put them in chat, then we can harvest them from the chat and we can put them in our resources page. Thank you Sarah.

DW: I'll do that in a second then. There's some really, really good research that's been done by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and also by Historic England under their Technical Tuesdays banner. They put up a lot of free research and they look at retrofit of historic buildings, so obviously that's very useful for me for the sort of small older building museums. And they've been looking at all the claims about the inefficiency of energy usage in old buildings that were made when the EPC came in for older buildings in the UK. So that was anyone that tried to buy and sell an old a building in the UK recently will have had to have an EPC, Energy Performance Certificate, and you'll have been told that your pre-2000s building is terribly inefficient and it is absolutely awful and you should really knock it down and start again, which is you know … we've never been convinced of that, have we? And so Historic England have been doing lots and lots of work to prove that this is all  not very accurate information and they have now proven this fortunately and so there's really, really good data in that if you follow those links and they've managed to get a lot of  information like a damp hall is 30% less efficient than a drywall. That kind of thing, which is very useful to know and means you should probably sort your gutters out. But also lots of useful things about the relationship between how much wall you have versus how much window, which would give you information about if you have a Cob building or a Georgian building and it might give you some guidance on whether you should go for more wall insulation or secondary glazing, or whether you should worry more about your roof, or whether you should worry more about your floor insulation, or if you shouldn't be worrying about insulation at all. Because you're given advice from your, perhaps if you're part of a local authority museum, lots of small museums are a subsidiary organization into a big wider organized organizational umbrella and they're told these things by their estate who are not specialists in historic buildings and this is just sort of general building knowledge rather than older building knowledge and it's just not accurate and so being able to go to this guide on retrofit to historic buildings and actually have the vocabulary is incredibly useful and this stuff is now all there, and it's all free, and it's supposed to be digestible to the general public, and it's mostly aimed at historic homes but actually it's really relevant to museum buildings because that's essentially what we're in. It's not talking about your collection, but it's talking about your building, and your building is essentially a collections item So I would thoroughly recommend those. I'll start putting those in the chat.

LF: 43:21

Thank you, that's really helpful. Thank you very much, Deborah. Elie what's the date your original building that was then refurbished?

EL: That's not an easy question to answer. Some bits are 13th century, but the majority of it is 17th, 18th, 19th century. It's been messed about a lot over the years so (unintelligible 00:43:42).

LF: And you were talking about your architect earlier did you find that they were sympathetic and understood the needs of an older building?

EL: Yes, yes. They had a lot of experience with historic buildings, which is one of the reasons we've chose them. They also had empathy for museums and knowledge of museums, which was great and just a shared outlook, you know. You know when you just meet somebody and you think they get what I'm saying? Yeah, really good working relationship.

LF: Yeah, so in answer to the question about heat pumps, so Marina Ferriera (??) has said that the National Trust uses heat pumps in some of their buildings, Blickling Hall is one example. Wendy Baker (??) geothermal heating and cooling has been tried in at least one Museum in the US. This works in conjunction with heat exchangers or heat pumps, very high startup costs. Lisa Oldham (??) has said that they have a small heat pump at Jersey Archive for their new extension and their main strongrooms are purpose built, passively controlled. So not sure it helps on most sites and their main energy use will be their cold storage rooms fueled by a gas boiler and she's asked a question to all of you actually, so they're looking to upgrade these as they are 23 years old and want to do this as sustainably as possible, can anyone help or advise? I mean Elie, Sarah, Deborah. So gas boiler is 23 years old and want to do a sustainable upgrade and is there any advice you can give? If not we can …  put you on the spot a tad with that one.

Okay I'm going to just ask you an open question then, as what would you identify as the biggest challenge to energy reduction in small museums?

EH: For us specifically, it was capital investment was required. You know, to move to things like LED lighting and just to add the insulation upgrade in the building. We needed that capital investment. So it was only once we got that that we could move forward. That's from our specific point of view.

LF: That's a really interesting question because one of the other members of the sustainability network has asked about access to funding for these works and for sustainability in general with four regional museums. What is your experience of that? Where can you go? How easy is it to access? Do you think it's easier for a large institution with the name to access and it's more difficult, or is it a level playing field? What would you say around funding?

EH: Our experience with the National Lottery Heritage Fund is that they were very supportive, very open to an application or multiple applications. I don't think we needed to be larger. I think they're quite supportive of smaller organizations, as long as you've got the capacity to take the project forward and deliver on the aims that you set out. I don't think it matters how big you are.

LF: So the provocative question that she follows that up with is, how could funding be improved?

EH: Some funders could make their application processes more straightforward, would be my first thought.

LF: Yes, I agree with you on that one having waded through 86 pages of a government form to try and find just one page that I required. Yeah, I think that goes for all forms, doesn't it? And all guidance and yes, you know, belt and braces   …  they want to cover all areas, but you know, when you're sitting there trying to wade through a very, very long document it's hard work and it takes a lot of staff time as well, doesn't it?

LF: Just looking … so how about this one then, so we are in a historic listed building which is always damp and cold. We have electric heaters on which are set to come on at 8 or 9 degrees but this costs us a lot of money for little difference. So what can they do better to heat and dry the building when they can't insulate it? And again, other Sarah, Sarah L. if you want to jump in, please do as well.

DW: So I would think that the first thing to do would be to try and talk to somebody who understands historic buildings to try and assist with looking at why it's so damp, because that's making the energy consumption higher. So if you go to the, I've put lots of links in the chat which Sarah Potter will be able to harvest, so I don't think that the general chat can see them at the moment but they will be harvested. In those technical videos there's quite a lot of discussion about performance of damp walls and so one of the things is about working out why the building is so damp. Is it coming up? Is it coming sideways? Is it coming down? Is it that the moisture is being trapped from what's being generated inside the building? So it's like, is it breathing and boiling kettles and all of that kind of like activity inside the building? Oor is it a combination of several of those things? Is it the rainwater goods that were installed when the building was built are just not sufficient? Or is it an extension that's got flat roof and it's just never going to perform properly? Is it subsidence that's made it slightly jaunty angle and it's just not ever going to work right and that's just got to be fixed? So I think you're going to have to invest some money in finding out what is the cause of the damp because until that's fixed you're just throwing money away and that's an unfortunate reality is you've just got to find out what the issue is with the building. Why it is damp? And after that then you can figure out how you can perform better because then your idea of heating to a low temperature which is essentially, I'm presuming, it's done as a conservation heating, is the the idea behind it and it's probably supposed to be controlled by a humidistat with a temperature limit and you know, all of those things. I'm presuming is what's behind it. It's probably going to be fine.

Yes, Chris has said in the chat, talk to the society for the protection of ancient buildings. That's exactly the links that are in the the chat that will come from Sarah. So they have a free advice line. I think it's open in the mornings. You can phone them and they'll give you some good places to start. The other one I'll put a link to that Sarah will be able to send you, is there is a book that has recently come out. It's very new and they are looking for feedback. It is not a completely finished perfect product and it's not totally perfect for old buildings but it's something that is worth everyone knowing about. There's a book now called the Arts Green Book and it has a tool kit in it that helps you work through assessing your property and that allows you to go through: have I got this? Have I got this? Have I got this? And it spits out who are the people you need to talk to at all the different stages of assessing your building. So what are the professions called and what do they do, and that's really useful vocabulary to have. Thank you. It's already in the chat, and there is a complimentary book for theaters which sounds bonkers but that actually has all the procedural stuff in for  you know, managing your ticket offer and the kind of operations side of activities. So although it sounds like these activities are nothing to do with my museum, and nothing to do with my collection, actually a lot of the activities that you do are covered by both of these books, so they're worth looking at and they genuinely do want feedback because there',  you know, this is a thing in progress and there's some really useful diagrams in these books. You know, there's like a 3D, broken down, expanded thing of a building which says: like this is the roof which you can probably figure out, but then there's some bits that are actually quite useful that you probably don't know what the words are so when you're going to have to have a conversation with an architect it might be worth looking at those sorts of resources ahead of time so you've got a bit more of a clue. And it's a little bit less intimidating, and you feel a little bit less attacked, because it's scary. I mean that's not what we do, we're not trained for those things and you can feel really put on spot.

LF: Yeah, that's really good advice there and thank you for all of the fantastic resources that you're sharing as well in the chat. Like I say, we will harvest those and we will put them on the resources page as well. So thank you very much. That's really interesting and you did touch on a really important point Deborah, in that your assumption with this question is that this is conservation heating and I've had this question before and the first question is well, what are you trying to achieve? Who are we heating it for? Is it the building? Is it the collection? Or is it the people in it? And at that point, the answer was: well we're heating it for the people. And so my recommendation was to heat the person, not the building. because they were in an aircraft hangar see, they'd never heard of the battery packs where you heat the fleece and you get your battery pack, and you put that in. So yeah, the first question is what are you trying to achieve? What are you doing with it?

DW: Definitely, definitely. Split your offer to your people. As long as they've got somewhere warm to go. Do they need to be warm at all points? Are they in all places at all times? Give them a refuge and as long as people understand why, and they have somewhere to go, and you work that warm offer around the work that needs to be done, and you're sensible about what you do, when. So some places that I go, you don't go in the summer and you don't go in the depths of winter. You have to work in the autumn and spring because you can't.

LF: Yeah, yeah, very much so. So Sarah, one of the questions we were asked earlier is a very simple one. The boxes. There was a question about what the boxes are made of. Are your boxes made of corrugated cardboard?

SL: So our basic archive boxes are the ones that you saw on the shelf there  …  Are a fairly standard, kind of solid board, but they're lined archival-y,  but within them we then have other layers of packaging. So most of our papers are in good quality, four flap cards. Thin card folders. A lot of our volumes are then in boxes of one sort or another. Sometimes they're in corrugated boards. Sometimes they're in a more solid box board. So we've basically got layers of packaging. It's all mostly, you know, cellulose based stuff. So it helps with the sort of buffering generally and the microclimate within the boxes. So that question earlier about the shift over the seasons or the day and the night,  it's less of an issue with things in boxes. So in an archive, as I mentioned before, temperature will move more like the room but the humidity really won't. So you know, you've got that changing day and night, it's really not doing that in the boxes. So yeah, lots of layers of packaging and a mixture of boards.

LF: So what you've just said might link to this question and it might maybe be outside of the limits of everyone's experience here, but any advice you can give for managing high temperatures for institutions in tropical countries and a variation in relative humidity? So it's air conditioning and climate control that are only savior. If that's outside of the limit of everyone's experience then  …  but you can give it a stab if you feel like.

SL: I think it's outside my limit, really. I mean even here, I believe that you can't really have a passive store that you don't have some control of the humidity. Because over time the collection will start to absorb moisture and kind of accumulate it, I believe. So obviously a lot of tropical structures … yeah, more problem. But yeah, I don't feel able to answer that at all really.

LF: I will say if anybody wants to, you know, type in the chat and answer them. We'd like, as Deborah was saying earlier, by pooling our knowledge and sharing our knowledge and our skills and having these conversations, we will get to the answers because we will cumulatively come towards it.

We've got one minute left. So at this stage I am going to thank you all for your wonderful presentations and conversation, and your expertise, and your knowledge, and for sharing so much, and for a really really interesting conversation. It's been such a good session, and learned loads, as ever. So thank you very much.