IPI’s Methodology for Implementing Sustainable Energy-Saving Strategies for Collections Environments

IPI's Methodology for Implementing Sustainable Energy-Saving Strategies in Collections Environments While greater efforts have been made to teach the theory and potential of sustainable preservation prior to this publication, there were no resources specific to cultural institutions that professionals could turn to for step-by-step guidance in achieving an optimal preservation environment on their own. Institutions committed to identifying opportunities to optimize their preservation environment will be able to use this publication to conduct risk-managed studies without negatively impacting their current preservation quality. This project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

IPI's general approach to providing an optimal preservation environment focuses on three core principles:

  1. Preservation of collections requires specific conditions, but these conditions can, and often should, vary, particularly seasonally. The previously accepted standard (an unwavering 70°F/50%RH) for collections storage environments is not ideal, and a holistic and flexible approach to environmental management is more successful.
  2. Institutions commonly operate on a fine line when it comes to resources and time allocation - attention is given first to those things that are known to be broken. Most mechanical systems operate sub-optimally and this type of operation is not self-announcing. A system that is achieving its environmental goal, even through sub-optimal operation, is rarely diagnosed as broken, and it takes proactive inspection to discover the inefficiency.
  3. The simultaneous achievement of both the best preservation and optimal system operation is a process that requires a series of carefully defined, risk-managed steps that serve to test individual strategies in order to come to a final strategic approach for a unique collection, space, and mechanical system.

Experience and practice have shown us that, while there is no single solution that will work for every institution, there are a series of practical energy-saving strategies that, with testing and assessment, will work in some combination for nearly any institution that holds cultural materials without endangering those materials.

This resource is a companion volume to IPI’s Guide to Sustainable Preservation Practices for Managing Storage Environments.

Download the entire guidebook (PDF) or download separate sections as needed:



Energy-Saving Strategies