Sustainable Practices

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This page is maintained by members of the American Institute for Conservation's Sustainability Committee. Contact the Sustainability Committee at with questions, comments, or tips on sustainability and the conservation of historic and artistic works.

Get Involved, Be the Change![edit | edit source]

Introducing Green Tea! Check our new podcast produced by a dedicated team of SC members.

GreenTea Logo.jpg

Green Tea is a podcast about cultural heritage preservation and sustainability. Green Tea seeks to engage its listeners with contemporary topics about cultural heritage and sustainability. Hosted by the American Institute for Conservation's Sustainability Committee, we speak with experts and changemakers as they share success stories, big ideas, and inspiration for change to combat the climate crisis and its effects. From individuals to large institutions, we can all make a positive impact for our collections, our people, our heritage and our planet.

Available Episodes:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with Bexx Caswell-Olson

Establishing Climate-Action Networks with Caitlin Southwick

Engaging with Climate Activists with Annabelle Hornung

The Impact of Repair Cafes with Netanya Schiff

Communities of Care with Bianca Garcia

No Cost-Low Cost Tips for Sustainability with Lorraine Finch

Want to stay up to date on sustainability-related events? Join the Sustainability Forum on the AIC Member Community. It's an easy and effective way to stay informed on sustainability events throughout the field, learn about valuable resources, and share questions and ideas! To join, login to the member community, browse "all communities" and request to join the "Sustainability Forum."

Need Resources?

Conversations with Change Makers - Strategies for Reducing the Energy Consumption of Buildings Webinar Series

The energy used to heat, cool, de/humidify, and light buildings is one of the biggest environmental impacts of the cultural heritage sector.  After decades of regarding one-size-fits-all, non-fluctuating indoor environmental parameters as the gold standard, the field is now questioning the value of this approach. The AIC Sustainability Committee, in collaboration with the ICON Sustainability Network, has been hosting a series of webinars during which we chat with conservators and allied professionals who are implementing changes to reduce the energy consumption of their buildings.

If you missed the live events, the recordings and full transcripts are below.

February 2023 Conversation with Nancie Ravenel (Shelburne Museum) and Patty Silence (Colonial Williamsburg)

Full Transcript for the February 2023 Conservation with Nancie Ravenel and Patty Silence.

March 2023 Conversation with Rob Pearce (Amgueddfa Cymru/Museum Wales)

Full Transcript for the March 2023 Conservation with Rob Pearce.

April 2023 Conversation with Karen Zukor (Zukor Art Conservation)

Full Transcript for the April 2023 Conservation with Karen Zukor.

June 2023 Conversation with Sarah Lewery (Churchill Archives, UK), Elie Hughes (Ely Museum, UK), and Deborah Walton (University of Cambridge Museums, UK)

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

July 2023 Conversation with Chris Dunbrack (The MET Cloisters) and Bethann Heinbaugh and Brock Manville (The National Gallery of Art)

Full Transcript for the June 2023 Conversation with Chris Dunbrack, Bethann Heinbaugh, and Brock Manville.

March 2024 Conversation with Michael Cataldi (Paradise Framing), Mike Dunphy (Small Corp), and Laura Gaylord Resch (Cleveland Museum of Art)

April 2024 Conversation with Jae Gutierrez, Executive Director of the Image Permanence Institute

Introduction to Sustainability[edit | edit source]

Conservation-Related Work Practices[edit | edit source]

Information about Specific Materials[edit | edit source]

Sustainable Energy Use[edit | edit source]

Taking Action & Sustainability Case Studies[edit | edit source]

Publications and Projects by the Sustainability Committee[edit | edit source]

Sustainability Now E-Mail Blast Archive[edit | edit source]

Issue One (January 2021)
Issue Two (August 2021)
Issue Three (December 2021)
Issue Four (April 2022)
Issue Five (June 2022)
Issue Six (September 2022)
Issue Seven (December 2022)
Issue Eight (February 2023)
Issue Nine (April 2023)
Issue Ten (September 2023)
Issue Eleven (January 2024)

Webinars and the Ask an Expert Video Series[edit | edit source]

Ask an Expert: Kelly Krish. The AIC Sustainability Committee speaks with Kelly Krish, Preventive Conservation Specialist at the Image Permanence Institute about all things energy savings. Kelly has worked extensively at institutions across the country to use energy saving strategies not only to help reach sustainability goals, but also to actually better preserve cultural heritage than traditional methods. She will share takeaways from IPI’s research and her experience in implementing them including best practices for HVACs, microclimates, air flow, lighting, passive storage (and more)!
Ask an Expert Q&A: Zero Waste with Angela Moore. Angela Moore, the Sustainability Coordinator and Project Manager at the Missouri Historical Society, fields questions about the TRUE Zero-Waste project at the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. Hear about how the sustainability department implemented zero-waste practices, polities, and trainings to successfully achieve a zero-waste museum. (12/3/2021)
ICON/AIC COP26 Collaboration. Our panelists shared their experiences of: working towards becoming carbon neutral while maintaining 20% RH, rethinking the products used during historic house maintenance, achieving certified B corp status at an independent paintings conservation studio, and how our field can rethink our work and expand our focus to include sustainability as art preservation. (11/3/2021)
Ask an Expert: Climate Activism with Museums for Future. We discussed climate activism with two experts from Museums for Future. If you are feeling stuck or unsure of where to go next with your climate action and want to expand the scope of your reach, Anna Krez and Maggie O'Donnell shared insights about creative new directions to expand. Both are Museums for Future collaborators who discussed how they are using their roles as conservation and museums professionals to advocate for changes in political and global climate policy. (10/1/2021)
Ask the Expert Series: LifeCycleAwareness (LCA) Discussion with Professor Shelie Mille. Professor Shelie Miller speaks to members of the AIC Sustainability Committee about her life cycle assessment (LCA) research which has led to some surprising findings that challenge and inform our instincts about what is an environmental choice. (4/16/2021)
LifeCycleAssessment (LCA) discussion with Sarah Nunberg, Sarah Sutton, Dr. Matthew Eckelman, and Sarah Sanchez. This interview with industry experts provide details about Life Cycle Assessments (or LCA) and how they can be useful in making sustainability decisions in the cultural heritage field. (1/29/2021)
Geothermal Systems for Cultural Institutions, Part I. Geothermal retrofitting of the Glessner House in Chicago from Bill Tyre, the Executive Director and Curator. (12/13/2020)
Geothermal Systems for Cultural Institutions, Part II. In part 2 of this series, dive further into the technical aspects of retrofitting historic buildings with geothermal systems with Mark Nussbaum, Principal Engineer at Architectural Consulting Engineers. (12/13/2020)
Examining the Environmental Impact of Exhibitions and Loans using the Life Cycle Assessment Tool coordinated by Sarah Nunberg. (12/8/2015)
Cost Effective and Sustainable Packing, Moving, and Storage coordinated by Geneva Griswald and Christian Hernandez. (12/1/2015)

AIC Newsletter Articles[edit | edit source]

A Path Forward: 2020 Sustainable Practices Survey by Rachel Childers, Christine Oricchio, and Christine Romano. AIC News, Vol 45, no. 5 (Sept 2020).
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

Projects[edit | edit source]

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
Material Matters tips poster displayed at the 2018 Annual meeting vendor hall booth
Sustainability Committee Public Statements - Climate Awareness and Natural Disasters

AIC Annual Conference Program[edit | edit source]

Works Cited and Further Reading[edit | edit source]