Heritage institutions at the forefront in a transformative decade

Updated October 19 (original August 12, 2021)

The effects of climate change are now becoming increasingly palpable, all over the world. Recent floods in France, Belgium, Germany and Italy, and wildfires in Oregon, California, Greece and Turkey, reminded us of the urgency of the situation. The most recent IPCC report is clear. The climate change we are seeing is unprecedented. Some of the consequences, such as extreme weather events, are now irreversible. The IPCC predicts that, in any case, we will go to one and a half degrees of warming. The frequency and extremity of extreme weather events occur is set to increase.

Flood damage in Pepinster, Belgium. Copyright: Christophe Licoppe, European Commission

The Ponina Fire in Oregon burned actively on April 18, 2021. Photo by Oregon Department of Forestry

This is not the time to just watch how it all unfolds. Most of this is in our hands. We might no longer be able to turn the tide, but we might be able to avoid much worse, prevent rather than cure, and provide our children with hope, determination, and a renewed sense of being in harmony with planet Earth.

Global players such as the EU, US, Japan and South Korea, plan to become climate neutral by 2050. China plans to do so by 2060. But also on the short term a lot needs to happen. With increased use of renewable energy and with greater energy efficiency, the EU’s Fit for 55 project, has set out to slash net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Although one of the most ambitious plans presented, some argue that it might still prove inadequate. We need to double down now, in this decade, if we want to avoid facing insurmountable decarbonisation requirements between 2030 and 2050. The 2020s need to be transformative for climate action.

Buildings account for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Hence if the EU is ever to reach its climate targets, we will need to decarbonise our building stock. Also heritage institutions need to actively engage. Your organisation can lead the way. And there is a lot to gain. Investing in energy saving measures, considering passive techniques where possible, can free up budget for other operations. Governments are increasingly showing they want to actively support this process. With a professional approach, accompanied by modelled, measured and verified energy savings, heritage institutions can attract public and private funding to help achieve the energy transition.

In the Resilient Storage project we apply existing protocols such as the IPI’s Methodology for Implementing Sustainable Energy-Saving Strategies to improve the indoor climate and reduce energy use on a short term, using existing infrastructure. We look at two museums, the FeliXart museum in Drogenbos, Belgium, and the Comic Strip Museum in Brussels, Belgium. In the Climate2Preserv project we knit together a new protocol from earlier tried-and-tested approaches. Here, we not only look at short term scenarios, but also scan and lay the groundwork for longer term scenarios, i.e. a refurbishment led by a dedicated building team. Museums involved are the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and CINEMATEK, both in Brussels, Belgium.

We can help you realise your ambitious energy goals. Call on us for guidance. Start monitoring your collections environment and energy use with CHARP Art Care software and hardware today.

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