Skip to content

Environmental Sustainability (Operations)

The Alliance has compiled this set of environmental sustainability resources from amongst its own offerings as well as those throughout the nonprofit and museum sector.

Alliance Resources

A Greener Tomorrow

Museum magazine discusses museum sustainability holistically, providing a comprehensive breakdown of ways to green the museum in many areas of its operations: facilities, food concessions, exhibit design, collections care, and historic preservation.

LED Lighting

Museum magazine discusses LED lighting and how using them promotes sustainability for a museum’s operations. The article also discusses color quality, safety around light-sensitive artifacts, glare, and balancing preservation with operations.

Saving Collections and the Planet

Museum magazine summarizes sustainable conservation measures that museums can adopt in storage, facilities, general operations and collections care.

Small(er) and Green(er) Sustainability on a Limited Budget

The Alliance provides a handout from its 2013 annual meeting, which provides practical information and several short case studies to illustrate how museums can make changes in all areas of their operations that improve their sustainability. The session explored modestly-priced or even free ways in which even smaller museums can implement green practices and become sustainable. (PDF)

Other Resources

Evaluating and Selecting Green Products

The Whole Building Design Guide supplies a comprehensive article on selecting green products. The resource shares information on green product standards and directories and guidance on understanding green terminology. It also shares a number of additional resources which may help museums with building and designing green spaces.

How Sustainable Is Your Historic House Museum?

The American Association for State and Local History (AASHL) provides a technical leaflet that summarizes eleven elements of a healthy, sustainable historic house museum. (PDF, 12 pages)

Improving Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings

The National Park Service (NPS) has a Preservation Brief that offers guidance on energy management in historic buildings. It recommends measures that will achieve the greatest energy savings with the least alteration to the structure while using materials that do not cause damage. It discusses inherent energy-saving characteristics, passive measures, retrofitting measures, and mechanical equipment.

Principles for sustainable museums

The UK Museums Association shares 11 principles for sustainable museums as well as provides a downloadable checklist to assess whether or not your museum is meeting these principles.

Proceedings of the Smithsonian Institution Summit on the Museum Preservation Environment

This March 2013 summit was the result of Smithsonian collections and facilities management staff desiring a written standard and best practices document for the management of environments in spaces where collections are housed. It addresses the contradictions that controlled environments of many of the Smithsonian’s collections were based on commonly held notions of environmental “standards” (i.e., 70°F/45% RH with ± variations) are at odds with current and even historical research findings and not understood by stakeholders to be the final and best preservation environment for all collections. (Proceedings edited by Sarah Stauderman William G. Tompkins)

Sustainable Practices Toolkit

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Green Scientific Advisory Group created this Sustainable Practices Toolbox to share resources designed to raise awareness of ways to conserve natural resources.

Sustainability in Science Museums Planning and Promotional Guide

The National Informal Stem Education Network (NISE) provides this guide for museums and other science-related institutions to help plan for integrating STEM sustainability activities into existing programs and provides a set of toolkits, which include hands-on activities, training materials, and other resources to promote learning about sustainability science and practice. (PDF, 18 pages)

The Climate Toolkit

In cooperation with Botanic Garden Conservation International the Phipps Conservancy developed the Climate Toolkit as a collaborative opportunity for museums, gardens, and zoos to learn how to aggressively address climate change within their own organizations and communities. The Toolkit incorporates twenty-four goals for addressing climate change under the following categories – energy, food service, transportation, plastics, landscapes and horticulture, investments, visitors, and research.

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.