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AIC Sustainable Practices in Heritage Conservation YouTube Playlist

In 2020, The Sustainability Committee created a playlist on the American Institute for Conservation's YouTube page. The playlist is a compilation of several videos featuring discussions, presentations, and interviews with experts on the topic of sustainability in the arts.

As a committee we would like to hold space for uncertainty and questioning, for radical honesty, curiosity, and openness to big ideas. But we are also here for data-informed decision making and scientific research that we hope will lead to concrete ideas and positive action. To that end, we recently conducted a survey that found that while 93% of those surveyed this year indicated that they were interested in learning more about sustainability in conservation, more than half of all respondents reported that resources and information on sustainable conservation practices were sometimes difficult to find. It is through this newsletter that we wish to better disseminate up-to-date information on sustainable practices in conservation, whether it be a webinar, tips and tricks, or information on glove recycling programs. We will try to bring some news of action, energy and optimism.


Geothermal Systems for Cultural Institutions, Part 1[edit | edit source]

In part 1 of this series, learn about Geothermal retrofitting of the Glessner House in Chicago from Bill Tyre, the Executive Director and Curator. Bill Tyre discusses plans to retrofit this historic building with a geothermal heating and cooling system. This project was funded by an National Endowment for the Humanities’ Preservation & Access Award. This video is brought to you by the AIC Sustainability Committee.


Geothermal Systems for Cultural Institutions, Part 2[edit | edit source]

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. Mark is responsible for the design and implementation of the geothermal heating and cooling systems at the Glessner House in Chicago (see part 1).


LifeCycleAssessment[edit | edit source]

An 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. LCAs are used to accurately calculate the environmental impact of products from creation to disposal. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) library project of conservation materials is funded by NEH and is a collaboration between FAIC, Northeastern University, and the Pratt Institute, and led by Sarah Nunberg, Sarah Sutton, Dr. Matthew Eckelman, and Sarah Sanchez. To learn more visit AIC's LifeCyclceAssessment page.


Ask the Expert Series: Life Cycle Awareness Discussion with Professor Shelie Mille[edit | edit source]

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. This is a broad discussion that encompasses both work-place practice and personal decisions. The information presented paints a nuanced picture of all the components that must be considered when thinking about environmental impact as well as what we can do to make sure our environmental choices are truly beneficial.

Professor Shelie Miller

Jonathan W. Bulkley Collegiate Professor in Sustainable Systems

Director of the Program in the Environment

Associate Professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability

University of Michigan

Professor Miller has a BS in chemistry from Denison University, a masters in civil and environmental engineering from Clarkston University, and a PhD in civil and materials engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Professor Miller's research uses life cycle assessment and scenario modeling to assess the different environmental impacts of good and behaviors. Some of these findings really challenged our environmental instincts (so to speak) and gave us a more nuanced view of what makes a lower impact choice. Some recent publications on which Professor Miller has been a lead or co author include: “The Future of Food: Environmental Lessons from E-Commerce”, “Five Misperceptions Surrounding the Environmental Impacts of Single-Use Plastic”, and “Comparison of life cycle environmental impacts from meal kits and grocery store meals”