Background on Energy Efficiency
Museums are often historic, spacious buildings that require significant amounts of energy for operations. For most buildings there are usually improvements that can be made to their energy efficiency. Improving energy efficiency can have multiple benefits for your organisation including reducing carbon emissions, cutting down on fuel consumption and bills, providing a more comfortable thermal environment, and improving indoor air quality.
A balance needs to be struck between increased energy performance of the building and cost, as well as impact on the building if it is listed or historical. Aim for what the building and organisation can reasonably adjust, rather than aiming for specific value reduction.
There are multiple considerations to reflect on before starting work:
- If the project is needed and can improve the energy performance of the building by reducing consumption, cost and/or carbon emissions.
- It’s important to work with the natural properties of the building and be sympathetic to the character and construction of it. For example, natural ventilation through windows, chimneys, vents etc helps to circulate air and water vapour, which reduces decay and mould build up. Consider the age and type of your building also as historic, traditional and modern buildings will all have different characteristics with different materials respectively.
- Explore using new materials that are sustainable as possible.
- Consider how to minimise any waste produced and what is done with any waste materials that are produced. Can they be recycled, sold second hand, or ensure that they are disposed of appropriately?
- Projects which have a longer lifespan/expected duration are more sustainable than something which needs to be replaced regularly.
- Can existing structures be upgraded or improved to be more sustainable rather than entirely replaced with something new?
- Think about the impact the change will have on staff, visitor, volunteer behaviour and if any communications about the project are required.
- Is this project part of wider sustainability/environmental work, strategy, or policy for the organisation? Consider the impact any changes undertaken will have on the building’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), particularly if they’re significant changes.
If you’re unsure where to start, there are external organisations such as energy providers that can conduct energy audits for your building. They help to determine where most energy is being wasted, energy consumption, and what changes can be made to improve the issue. Similarly, any work can and in some cases should only, be carried out in consultation with experts such as engineers, electricians etc.
More information on general energy saving in buildings can be found at:
- Saving Energy in Traditional Buildings | Historic Environment Scotland
- Saving Energy in your Home | Historic England
- How to Improve Energy Efficiency | The Engine Shed | Part of HES
- Energy, Water & Electricity Saving for Museums | SaveMoneyCutCarbon