Are you taking advantage of free energy?

Are you taking advantage of free energy?

Sent Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I’ve had a whirlwind week, giving the keynote

address for the Museums, Sustainability and Growth Conference,

followed by a presentation to the Social History Curators Group.

Bill Seaman, one of the Conference organisers writes, “Many thanks

for your keynote speech at the Museums, Sustainability and Growth

Conference last week. This was a timely and revealing

contextualisation of the whole sustainability movement and the role

museums uniquely can play. The slow movement you mentioned was

discussed afterwards and the adaptation to slow funding was

suggested – spreading the funding and the outputs over longer

periods – perhaps more in tune with human/community development and

avoiding the tyranny of the financial year! Also the need to ‘take

charge’ in a world of uncertainty. Well its certainly that at the

moment and I’m sure you inspired many delegates to take charge of

their futures.” What a way to start of this month’s newsletter!



To your greener future,

Rachel Madan, Director of Greener Museums





Here’s what’s in this issue:


* Are you taking advantage of free energy?

* Sustainability Assessment Opportunity

* About Rachel Madan



Best wishes,


Rachel Madan


Are you taking advantage of free energy?



It’s summer and it’s sunny (unless you are one of my Southern

Hemisphere subscribers–sorry!). Are you taking advantage of this

free source of lighting? Using natural light for your offices is

often referred to as ‘daylightiGreener Museums – Image 1ng,’

describing the practice of placing windows or other openings and

reflective surfaces so that during the day, natural light provides

effective internal lighting. Although this is most applicable when

designing and building a space the ideals of daylighting should be

incorporated into all office environments. If your gallery spaces

do not have light sensitive objects, you can make use of daylight

in galleries, too.


The benefits of making use of daylight include:


* Reduced carbon emissions and costs from leaving the lights

on. Offices incorporating daylighting achieve energy savings of


* Higher retail sales. In an experiment conducted by Wal-Mart,

stores that included skylights over certain departments found that

overall sales per square foot were higher in the departments lit by

natural light.

* Increased staff productivity due to increased satisfaction

and visual comfort. According to a daylighting and work performance

study by the California Energy Commission, exposure to daylight was

consistently linked with a higher level of concentration and better

short-term memory recall



In other words it makes us happier and we work better! Obviously

the best time to incorporate daylighting into a building is at the

design stage. Once the building is built, increasing awareness

about the benefits of daylighting help staff to take advantage of

what natural light they have.


First, take a look around and see whether you are making the most

of the natural light. Are your blinds shut or a skylight covered

up? They may be closed-up for a reason, like glare, but screen

covers can be used to compensate for that while you get the

opportunity to be bathed in natural light (far more flattering than

overhead fluorescent lighting).


Even if you have the blinds open you may turn the light on in the

morning if it is still a bit dark. It can be very easy to leave

the lights on throughout the day as it no longer makes any

difference to light levels. Set a reminder on your calendar to

check the lights when it may be time to turn them off – gives

plenty of time for the sun to reach over any buildings that might

be blocking the light. Eventually it will become second nature to

check and turn them off.


More museums are starting to take advantage of daylighting outside

of the office and in the gallery. This year’s International

Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) Awards recognised The New

Acropolis Museum in Athens and the Art Institute of Chicago’s

Modern Wing. The New Acropolis Museum won the Award of Excellence

and the Sustainability Award (the only project granted the award in

2010). The Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing received a

Special Citation, recognised for creatively integrating daylighting

in a museum setting. So as you see it can be done!