Cuts of 30%

[Greener Museums Newsletter] Cuts of 30%

Sent Thursday, March 3, 2011


What a busy month! It’s been so busy that the February newsletter

is going out in March…(oops, sorry about that). We’ve been

fantastically busy. Greener Museums was recognized as innovative by

the UK House of Lords, we completed our very first Greener Museums

Sustainability Leadership Programme, resulting in over £215,000 of

absolute financial savings and over £600,000 in total Social

Return. Our project was covered by Museums and Heritage Magazine

and you can read more about it here.


And finally, I wrapped up the month as the keynote speaker at the

Irish Museums Association Annual Conference. Whew!!


We are now getting ready to run our Greener Museums Sustainability

Leadership Programme, and you’ll be seeing more information from me

about how you can learn about last year’s results and this year’s

upcoming programme. If you’d like to learn more about how to apply

and participate, just send me an e-mail.


This month’s newsletter focuses on the power of questions to

achieve sustainability. You’ll learn about how one shift in your

mindset can have a huge impact. And the cuts of 30%? Well- that’s

how much The Wordsworth Trust cut their carbon footprint this year

as a participant in the Greener Museums Sustainability Leadership



To your greener future,

Rachel Madan, Director of Greener Museums



Here’s what’s in this issue:


* Client Success Story: The Wordsworth Trust

* Feature Article: The Power of Questions

* Upcoming Events

* About Rachel Madan



Best wishes,


Rachel Madan



Client Success Story: The Wordsworth Trust

Jeff Cowton was a participant in the Greener Museums 2010

Sustainability Leadership Program*


Before joining the Greener Museums scheme, The Wordsworth Trust did

try to be sustainable, but didn’t have any definite strategy for

doing so. Some measures were already in place, such as composting

and recycling in the staff room, and using scrap paper in the

printer if a clean sheet was not needed. However a commitment to

‘greening’ the museum wasn’t really a priority amongst staff.


Jeff says, “now we have the core members of a greener museums team,

with a view to including more staff in the committee as

appropriate. Becoming a more sustainable and eco-friendly

attraction is a priority for us and one that is being actively

thought about. Actions that have been carried out have been

communicated to all staff members. Sustainability is definitely an

issue we think about now before implementing any changes.” Through

the programme, the Wordworth Trust discovered that electricity is

the biggest contributor to their carbon footprint. Changes have

been made to air handling equipment which has already brought

costs down 11 percent. The trust is also switching to a new energy

broker who will provide smart meters, enabling staff to monitor

consumption each day. In addition, gallery lights are turned off

when no one is in the gallery. Other improvements include changing

inefficient and expensive electric heaters to gas-heaters, which

are far more efficient. The gas-guzzling staff vehicle is being

replaced with a more efficient model.


The result of all of this has been an amazing 30% reduction in the

Wordsworth Trust’s total carbon footprint, a total of 9.8%

reduction in utility usage and a reduction in electricity costs of

£5117.71. All we can say is WOW!!


*All 2010 Participants have been funded by Renaissance North West


The Power of Questions


How many things are you doing in your museum “because that’s the

way we’ve always done it?” This could be hampering not only your

museum’s innovation potential, but also your sustainability. From

questioning gallery environmental standards (See the Greener

Museums Newsletter June 2010 Issue) to examining how exhibitions

are put together (check out our Green Exhibition Teleseminar) to

whether visitor need to be physically present to enjoy art and

objects (check out the Google Art Project), questioning and being

curious have immense value for your museum.


As this month’s featured case study, Jeff Cowton from The

Wordsworth Trust has really taken on board the value of questions.

Jeff says, “”before the Greener Museums Sustainability Leadership

programme my understanding was very general in nature. I had a

basic understanding but I did not feel confident in arguing the

case from a factual viewpoint. Now, I focus on achieving objectives

rather than accepting the situation. Now I know that it doesn’t

have to be ‘just the way it is’ and I’m determined to make

changes.” And as I’ve already shared, this has a real financial and

carbon impact.


Another Greener Museums Sustainability Leadership participant,

Karen Stratford from the Congleton Museum, shares this sentiment.

Congleton’s main priority is to reduce electricity consumption as

this is the main contributor to their carbon footprint. Karen

started asking questions related to housekeeping. Karen says, “I

started asking about the photocopier, the lights, the air

conditioning. I kept asking until I got the facts, and it turns out

it’s far better to switch off the photocopier, for example. So now

everything gets turned off at night.” Karen has also asked about

the air conditioning units, which are used to heat and cool. Karen

is starting to ask, “Can we change these settings according to the

season, according to the outside temperature?” Now, Congleton are

experimenting with the settings to see what the optimum temperature

should be. Karen says, “this is a real breakthrough for us to

actually ask these questions.”


What should I ask?


Here are some tips to get you started.

(1) Ask Why. Pretend you’re a curious three year-old and you’ll be

a master of this question. Question your procedures, your habits,

your behaviours. Why do we always throw away plinths? Why isn’t

this printer set up for double-siding? Why is the heat on with the

window open? And keep asking until you get the facts. Which leads

to our next tip…


(2) Go to the source. Do not take the opinions of colleagues,

friends or family members as fact. Myths persist, particularly on

the internet. It is NOT better to leave your lights on, it is NOT

better for the photocopier to leave it on all night, and virgin

paper does NOT use less energy than recycled. Just a few of my

least favorite persistent myths. If you have questions about

equipment, ask the manufacturer.


(3) Re-visit old questions. Technology changes rapidly. The

answers you received about LED lighting, low-VOC paint,

energy-efficient computers, etc. may no longer be valid. In

particular, pricing data is often out of date but we base our

opinions on the most recent information we have (which might be

5-10 years old!). So if you’re thinking of ways to improve your

museum’s sustainability, re-visit some of those old questions.