Research on Energy Saving Opportunities in Libraries (2009-2012)

Energy Saving Opportunities in LibrariesThe Image Permanence Institute received an IMLS National Leadership grant for a major research project dealing with sustainable preservation practices in libraries. Many libraries maintain tightly controlled, energy-intensive environments for their stacks, special collections and exhibition spaces. For budgetary reasons and concerns about global climate change, libraries are searching for ways to responsibly and safely lower energy consumption.

This project will investigate a promising method for libraries to achieve significant reductions in energy use without compromising the preservation quality of collection environments through a carefully monitored and risk-managed shutdown of air handling units during unoccupied hours.

Five prestigious libraries from across the country have partnered with IPI to help determine through experimentation and documentation whether it is feasible to save energy in this manner. Selected with diversity in geographic location, institution size and type, building and systems construction in mind, the five libraries are Birmingham Public Library, Yale University Library, University of California LA Library, Cornell University Library, and New York Public Library. In addition to IPI staff, a key member of the IPI team is Peter Herzog, author of Energy-Efficient Operation of Commercial Buildings (published by McGraw-Hill, 1997) and principal of Herzog/Wheeler & Associates, a Minnesota-based energy consulting firm.

“This research proposal provides an unprecedented opportunity to address our stewardship goals by conserving natural resources, controlling the costs of operating our physical plant, and tending to the conservation of our collections,” says Gary Strong, university librarian at UCLA Library.  “This award validates the research path that IPI has been working on with respect to leading-edge sustainability studies. If this project is a success, there is the potential to save libraries and museums hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on energy costs, while at the same time, better preserving their collections,” says James Reilly, IPI Director.

At the end of the project period, IPI will provide access through a free publication to the research project methodology and results, descriptions of project plans and experiences, suggestions for overcoming potential barriers to implementation, actual costs of operation of special environments, and recommended best practices for controlled, risk-managed AHU shutdowns.

Visit the project website at www.ipienergysavings.org to learn more.


IPI can work with your organization to develop an Environmental Monitoring and Analysis project that fits your needs, from designing an environmental management program, purchasing monitoring equipment, evaluating HVAC design plans, review of existing mechanical systems, energy saving opportunities, risk analysis, and more.

Contact Patricia Ford to discuss your needs: pafpph@rit.edu