Proving that even the oldest of buildings can make energy efficient gains, New Zealand’s first museum has also become the first in the world to gain CEMARS (Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme) certification. Auckland Museum, which was established in 1852, has cut its electricity use by six percent in the past year as part of CarboNZero’s certification programme, and has committed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at east 10 percent over the next five years.
According to the museum’s interim director Sir Don McKinnon, improving the museum’s environmental footprint is a key strategy of the institution’s 2011-2012 Annual Plan, which took effect on 1 July.
“We have set ourselves the unofficial goal of reducing our carbon footprint by 10 percent in the next 5 years. We believe Aucklanders and our many other visitors increasingly want to know that major institutions such as the Museum are improving their environmental sustainability. We know the Museum still has a way to go, but getting this certification is an excellent milestone.”
Along with the reduced electricity consumption, the museum’s gas consumption has remained steady while water use has declined slightly.
The museum’s greenhouse gas total for the 2010 calendar year has been measured at 1805.66 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents.
Energy savings have been acieved with the help of some basic technology improvements, but making savings certainly wasn’t without its challenges.
“Being a museum brings unique challenges, for example, reductions in energy use need to be balanced against the need to ensure constant temperatures and humidity control for the preservation of treasured objects and documents in our collection,” said McKinnon.
A number of hi-tech digital meters helped achieve savings by providing real time data to assist monitoring and control. A re-development of bathroom facilities in the Grand Foyer used sensors for taps and toilets to dramatically reduce water consumption.
Outside, time controlled rains sensors and moisture sensitive controls were introduced this year, meaning that whenever it rains, the museum’s irrigation system skips a day so that surrounding grounds aren’t watered in excess.
The Auckland Museum joins the likes of Westpac, Meridian Energy, Spicers Paper and Villa Maria in the CEMARS club.