Stretching a tiny sustainability budget

[Newsletter] Stretching a tiny sustainability budget

Sent Monday, January 31, 2011


This month we completed our first ever Greener Museums

Sustainability Leadership Programme, funded by Renaissance North

West. I am extremely proud and inspired by each of the participants

in this program. Now I’m busy measuring our ROI and SROI (that’s

Social Return on Investment) and will be reporting the results on

February 15th in Manchester, England, along with several of our

participants. It promises to be exciting day! Although I’m busy

crunching the data right now I can tell you that the grants

received by just one of our participants as a result of her

participation were nearly equal to the total investment for 23

museums in the programme by our funder. Now that’s quite a return

on investment!


This month’s newsletter offers some suggestions on what smaller

museums can do to stretch their sustainability budgets and get the

most return on what may be a very small investment.


To your greener future,

Rachel Madan, Director of Greener Museums



Here’s what’s in this issue:


* Client Success Story: The Warrington Museum

* Stretching Small Budgets for Sustainability

* Upcoming Events

* About Rachel Madan



Best wishes,


Rachel Madan



Client Success Story: The Warrington Museum

Amanda Moore is a participant in the Greener Museums 2010

Sustainability Leadership Program*


Before participating in the Greener Museums

Sustainability Leadership Program, Sustainability was something

that we mentioned occasionally, usually in relation to getting

value for money from light bulbs, etc. But there was no formal

policy that anyone knew about. Now, after having completed the

program, all staff are aware of the need to make wise choices to

save money in both the short and long term. I am seen as the person

to ask about sustainability issues and am on the council green

champion network. Sustainability is mentioned more regularly in our

team meetings.


We conducted a switch-off campaign in the museum office area known

as ‘Number 7’. The museum office consumption averaged about 20.4Kwh

per day before any

action was taken. I encouraged colleagues to take action over by

setting up a white board to show staff their weekly energy

consumption, reminding staff to control their energy use by leaving

lights off longer, turning off printers when not in use etc. and

offering a green prize draw gift as an incentive. In just the first

month we reduced electricity consumption to 17.6Kwh which is a

savings of around 14%. Last year (2009/2010) this area, 7 Museum

Street spent £2,219 on their electricity bills. We’ve reduced that

this year by £266, nearly 12% of our utility bill. Although this

number might seem small, it’s huge for a small museum like ours.


As a result of the program, I am happy for people to come to me and

ask in-depth questions of a technical nature. I know where to find

information about our smart meters, lamps, power solutions etc. and

can advise members of the council green team on this. I forward

relevant material I read about to the correct department within the

council and make myself available for further meetings about things

I have suggested. This makes me feel more confident as I don’t

usually send advice and information to other departments outside

the museum.


*All 2010 Participants have been funded by Renaissance North West


Stretching Small Budgets for Sustainability


Investments in sustainability typically provide excellent returns.

I definitely recommend finding budgets that can contribute to

sustainability efforts–as they typically pay off benefits far

beyond the initial financial investment. But what happens when

there is no money for an investment? What if you’re a tiny museum,

just struggling to get by with few paid staff or even only



There are still things you can do to promote sustainability within

your museum. One of the first things I recommend is that you

measure, monitor and report your electricity and gas utility costs.

The important thing is that more than just the person who pays the

bill knows what the cost actually is. If you want people to make a

change in their behavior you need to give them a reason to do so.

My clients who have started by just telling staff how much the

museum spends each month on electricity and gas have seen immediate

reductions in energy use, ranging from 10-14%. If you’ve ever

started watching your own personal spending you’ll know why this

works. Just seeing what you spend helps you to find places to save.


Once you’ve alerted your staff to the fact that you have a huge

overspend in electricity, you want to identify some simple, easy,

fast, and free things they can do to cut those bills. You could do

a quick and easy campaign, just around these items. Some good

examples are turning the lights on later in the spring and summer,

when there is plenty of daylight available. Another idea is to make

sure all of your computers, monitors, copiers, printers and faxes

are turned off at night.


Finally, make sure you are working with colleagues. You want to

find out what might already be happening. My experience with my

clients is that there is usually a department or even an individual

in the museum who has a great system for saving energy, but they

don’t tell anyone! Sharing knowledge is really important,

especially when you’ve got a tiny budget. You need leverage the

expertise of those around you.