Exhibitions - Going Green Survey
Analysis Report - October 2008
The question of addressing green practices within the international exhibition exchange programmes was raised by Stephen Mellor, Exhibitions Co-ordinator, Tate Modern at the International Exhibition Organisers (IEG) Conference held in Rome in April 2007.
In order to assess what is already being done within the Art Exhibition industry and to share ideas and experiences and to promote Green Practices more widely, an on-line survey was drawn up by Stephen Mellor working with Daniel Vega, Deputy Director, Planning and Organisation, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.
The email invitation to take part in the survey was sent to all members of the IEG and the North American Group (NAEO) in March/April 2008, to a few other ‘known contacts’ and sent on to other interested people as the
email word spread.
The on-line Survey Period was originally open from 10 March to 10 April 2008. A snap shot analysis of the thsurvey was presented at the 4 Annual Meeting of the International Exhibition Organisers (Bonn, 17-18 April 2008). In view of the interest that the survey had raised among other institutions, the survey was re-opened for another three months, extending the end date until 31 July 2008.
This report is formatted for printing on A4 paper with 2cm top and bottom and 3cm left and 2cm right margins and trust you will double side copy when you have the opportunity!
There is a lot of good information in this report – some ideas very simple to implement – but we have not tested
the validity of any of these ideas or processes, cannot be held responsible for any of the information nor can we vouch for any web site links and any information these may contain.
We hope our comments will assist in the interpretation of the survey results.
85 Institutions submitted answers to the survey – 10 answered for different sites so we have 95 responses on
which this report is based. However, some did not complete all questions but as all answers were of interest we have decided to include all submissions/answers in our analysis.
The vast majority of the Institutions (98%) send or receive temporary exhibitions.
The international ‘spread’ of the 85 respondents: (see Institution list at end of report)
1 New Zealand
From the analysis of the responses that follow you will see there is a desire to ‘green’ how we work but
the ideas and information are scattered. In particular the survey raises contradictory data regarding how ‘green’ we think, plan and develop exhibitions in view of the amount of real facts or examples of good practice which are provided in the responses. As an example, despite the fact that 47% of the respondents acknowledge the use of eco-friendly paint, and that 55% are prepared to share their green strategies and solutions, only 9% have named green exhibition materials – and just 6% use
green crating materials they can recommend.
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Analysis of Sections 1 and 2 of the survey has been placed at the end of this report.
Section 3 - How is your institution thinking ‘green’?
About two thirds (61%) of the institutions that participated in the survey said that their institutions did not have a formalised method or committee for discussing and considering ‘green’ issues.
; From the 39% of institutions that do have a committee set up for green issues, 61% of them meet regularly
(more than every 6 months), 19% meet at least once every six months, and the remaining 19% meets only
; When committees exist, 68% of them have a representative from the Exhibitions department, but only 46%
of them have an internally published strategy for green issues.
81% of the institutions mentioned that are not required to report on green issues by trustees or government.
Just over half of the institutions said they promoted and raised awareness to all staff and departments regarding green issues. A similar number were eager to share their green issues, strategies and solutions.
Table 1 – How is your institution thinking green?
Does your institution have an Internal Greening Committee39%61%
Meets more than once every 6 months19%
Meets only occasionally19%
Meets more regularly61%
Committee has an internally pusblushed greening strategy46%54%
Exhibitions department represented in the Committee68%32%
Required by government or trustees to report Green issues19%81%
Prepared to share its green issues, strategies and solutions55%45%
Do you have a green policy for all your purchasing15%85%
Do you have a separate 'Exhibitions' greening committee6%94%
Do you promote and raise awareness to all staff and departments56%44%
There seems to be still a long way to go towards thinking green institutionally in museums. Besides the fact that a majority of institutions do not have an Internal Greening Committee, where such management committees have been established, only half have a published greening strategy in place. Specifically in the area of exhibition planning and production there is clearly much progress to be made: only 32% of the participants have a representative of the Exhibitions department on the Internal Greening Committee, and - not quite surprisingly therefore only 6% of the institutions participating in the survey have a separate ‘Exhibitions’ greening committee.
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4 – Buildings: Operations
The most widely used changes in building operations introduced were recycling of: ; office paper waste (92% of participants)
; photocopier cartridges (84%)
; batteries (71%)
; water saving schemes (47%)
; more efficient door controls (45%).
Less popular alternatives were:
; having external ground composting (62% not doing and not considering)
; printing double sided (38%, although 36% considering)
; lowering office temperatures (34%, but 31% considering)
; having separate catering waste (38%)
; applying additional insulation (41%, but 21% considering).
Graph 1 - Changes in your Building Operations
Recycling office paper waste
Recycling photocopier cartridges
Introduced water saving programmes
Introduced better door controls
Applied additional insulation
Have separate catering waste / composting
Have lowered office temperatures
Printing double sided
Have external grounds composting
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
YES NO but would consider NO
; Many respondents mentioned that green building initiatives would be implemented in new buildings
more extensively than currently possible. Several others mentioned that green initiatives were made
possible only after the refurbishing of their very old buildings (insulation, door closures, temperature
control being the main ones mentioned).
; Participants also mentioned other wastage that they are already recycling, mainly plastics, wood, glass,
electronic materials, and dangerous materials as paint and solvents, packing, paper, cardboard, porcelain
and china, CDs and DVDs.
; Other issues and initiatives mentioned were:
o The chiller system upgraded with a water softner which will reduce the amount of water
required in the system
o New meter will also identify and reduce water loss through the system
o Difficulty of cooling the building, which we want to do without resorting to energy intensive
o The biggest issue for museums to save energy may be being more flexible about setting loan
conditions in terms of temperature and RH so that more museums can work without air con.
o Using ‘green’ cleaning solutions
o Reviewing every product's MSDS sheet
o Shutting off hot water service to public and staff restrooms; or lowering the hot water
o Using Styrofoam cups for coffee
o Guests get paper-based coffee cups, and staff has to use their own ceramic mugs
o Use sugar and creamer in the large containers and no longer using individual packets
o We increase the office temp in summer and decrease it in winter
o Recycling all of our light bulbs, both fluorescents and exhibits lighting
o Purchasing some recycled/post-consumer paper products
o Purchasing locally.
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Section 4 – Buildings: Lighting
As to lighting solutions, the most popular alternatives being implemented are the replacement of older lights or equipment for more efficient ones (73% currently doing), replacing old bulbs for energy efficient bulbs (71%) and the introduction of electricity economies to the building lighting operations (65%).
The least favourite alternatives were the introduction of more daylight (71% responding ‘no’ or ‘considered and rejected’) and the introduction of green energy supplies such as solar or wind (62%).
Table 2 – Lighting
NOConsidered Currently No further and YESresearchinginforejected
Replaced older lights with more efficient equipment73%15%12%0%Replaced light bulbs for more energy efficient ones71%21%8%0%Introduced electricity economies to building lighting65%20%15%0%Renewed office lighting36%13%51%0%Introduced msensor movement lighting35%14%44%7%Introduced more daylight22%7%60%11%Introduced green energy supplies (solar, wind, etc)11%27%56%6%
Graph 2 – Lighting
Replaced older lights with more efficient equipment
Replaced light bulbs for more energy efficient ones
Introduced electricity economies to building lighting
Renewed office lighting
Introduced msensor movement lighting
Introduced more daylight
Introduced green energy supplies (solar, wind, etc)
YESCurrently researchingNo further infoConsidered and rejected
Other comments regarding lighting initiatives were:
; Lighting is programmed automatically according to space occupation schedules
; Research LED Lighting
; There is a problem with sourcing energy efficient light bulbs for some types of display lighting. We have
introduced more daylight, but have had problems relating to the technology required to operate such
; Surveyed night time out of hours usage and adjusted timers in the gallery spaces ; Using LED and fibre optics in galleries
; We are 99% fluorescent w/daylight. We are switching from T-12 to T-8 ballasts.
Whilst the recycling of office paper (92%) and photocopier cartridges (84%) is almost normal practice the initiatives to save lighting in building operations (replacement of bulbs or introduction of electricity economies) can still be clearly improved.
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Section 4 – Buildings: Climate Control
As to climate control solutions, about half of the participating institutions had researched possibilities. A similar number had introduced or implemented a climate control measure, with the lowering or raising of temp/humidity limits in public spaces (48%) and in exhibition spaces (47%).
Table 3 – Climate Control
NOConsidered No further But would and YESinfoconsiderrejected
Researched climate control changes55%27%18%0%Lowered or raised temp/humidity limits in other public spaces48%31%20%1%Lowered or raised temp/humidity limits in Exhibition spaces47%33%19%1%Lowered or raised temp/humidity limits in Collection storage area38%40%19%4%Introduced efficiencies in this area34%42%24%0%
Graph 3 – Climate Control
Researched climate control changes
Lowered or raised temp/humiditylimits in other public spaces
Lowered or raised temp/humiditylimits in Exhibition spaces
Lowered or raised temp/humiditylimits in Collection storage area
Introduced efficiencies in this area
YESNo further infoBut would considerConsidered and rejected
Several respondents mentioned that a key difficulty towards improvements in this area is the requirement of lenders and government indemnity schemes specifying temperature and RH limits.
Other comments regarding climate control were:
; Use of a world leading passive cooling system called the Labyrinth. This cooling system generates one tenth
of the greenhouse gas emissions of conventional cooling systems
; In winter we keep in the exhibition galleries a 19º-20º temperature. In summer we raise the temperature to
; Climate is switched on/off automatically according to occupation schedules in all areas without works of art.
In areas with works of art, the gates to outdoor air are closed when there is no public present, as air
renovation is therefore not necessary
; Temperature and humidity levels kept constant in response to the requirements of lenders and Government
Indemnity. BMS regulates temperature in collection spaces (50+/-10, 20 degrees centigrade) and exhibition
spaces (50 +/-5, 20 degrees centigrade
; New air distribution system in galleries and new dual plant with modes of operation will reduce energy by
more than 50% and achieve close environmental control to government indemnity standards ; Improvements in temperature and humidity control from air conditioning system and variable temperature
; Seasonal HVAC setups to minimize energy use by utilizing more or less outside air. - Enthalpy control and
optimal equipment setups in central plant on a daily basis
; The open plan of our building does not allow for much difference in temperature and humidity between
gallery and public spaces
; Have decided to lower out set points to better reflect what our building is able to maintain in a San
Francisco environment (48% RH; 70 degrees F +/-5 or +/- 2 degrees
; Lower humidity set point in winter for the offices and library
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; In the exhibition galleries we have to maintain the climatic conditions required for artwork. All other parts
of the building are usually very cold.
The many initiatives from different international institutions, associations, and professional groups such as ICOM, IIC, AAM, IAMFA, Bizot or IEO Groups should gradually lead to the agreement and adoption internationally of new/revised climate control standards that will enable more pragmatic and greening – but still appropriate and responsible – environmental gallery conditions.
Whilst environmental conditions in exhibition galleries are being modified by 47% of participants this is probably in contradiction to the environmental conditions the same institutions require in their standard ‘outward loans’ conditions.
Section 4 – Buildings: New Buildings
55% of the participating institutions are currently engaged in or are in the planning stage of a new building. 89% of those planning a new building have said that green issues are being considered in the plans.
; Associated costs in capital versus recurrent are difficult to balance in government projects with the
uncertainty of capital funding
; Basic green initiatives are already included and additional funding applied for to extend the scale or
number of ESD initiatives that can be incorporated into the building
; We have just opened a new external storage area. It has been designed with "green issues" in mind as: use
of low-consume lamps, use of very efficient external layer of buffering material, space distribution which
facilitates the climate control with reduced energy cost, etc.
; It is part of the program regarding heating, lighting, insulation, respecting green public spaces around ; Currently, we are completing feasibility study on three new buildings (2 outdoor classrooms and a ticketing
office), all featuring methods of sustainable constructions including straw-bale insulation and green
; Green issues are considered and assessed to satisfy work place legislation, comfort and indemnity
; Low VOC materials were used in re1vations and will be used in special exhibitions
; Our building is only 4 years old so we have an advantage of being able to use fairly new tech1logies to
reduce energy consumption
; LEED certification for remodel.
It is good to see that both clients and architects are on the green path with 55% of new building respondents confirming environmental issues are addressed. We are sure this will rapidly increase to become standard practice. The LEED certification process is both encouraging and good practice to follow.
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Section 5 – Visitor Operations
In regard to changes to visitor operations, opinions were in general divided. About a quarter of the participating institutions had introduced recycling schemes into public areas (plastic 26%, cans 26%, paper 22%, glass 21%). Those who had not were evenly divided between not wanting such schemes and considering as potential green solutions.
Only 6% of the institutions mentioned having adjusted visitor times or days, with 14% being against such an initiative. However, 80% of the participants mentioned potentially considering reducing visitor days or times as a greening solution.
Graph 4 – Visitor Operations
Introduced plastic recycling in publicareas
Introduced can recycling in publicareas
Introduced paper recycling in publicareas
Introduced glass recycling in publicareas
Adjusted visitor times or days
YESNO but would considerNO
Other comments related to visitor operations included:
; Installed collecting poles for the recycling of aluminium buttons (=tickets)
; Have introduced the above mentioned recycling schemes in limited areas at present but are actively
pursuing rolling it out to other areas of the museum
; Encourage visitors to leave behind unwanted gallery leaflets for re-use
; Opening hours changed to make the most use of natural daylight, therefore not relying on electrical light ; Our Cafe recycles wine bottles and boxes and the grease sent off to be used for bio fuels; Exhibitions reuses
wood, paint and other materials when suitable; Gift Shop reuses shipping boxes and packing materials for
; Cafe has reduced waste by moving away from disposable plates and plastic ware
; We hope to be expanding our visitor recycling opportunities to all small electronics ; No paper towels in public washrooms, just air dryers
; Public composting is available at two of our sites, and all catering waste is composted. Our catering staff
provide compostable ‘take-out’ containers at all sites
; We advertise public transportation options on our website.
There is clear evidence that there are more intense ‘green activities’ ‘back of house’ rather than ‘front
of house’. While 92% of participants are recycling office paper waste, only 22% of participants have introduced paper recycling in public areas. It would be interesting to know how much this imbalance responds to aesthetic necessities and constraints.
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Section 6 – Exhibition Making Process: Exhibition Builds
As the table below shows, the majority of institutions use temporary display walling (87%). From within these, 69% use reusable equipment for display walling. A similar number have reusable walling surfaces (68%), and have the walling system designed specifically for their buildings (69%).
Around half of the institutions use eco-friendly paints (47%). Only a small share of the participants mentioned having green exhibition materials they could recommend (9%).
Table 4 – Exhibition builds
YESNODo you have and use temporary display walling?87%13%If yes, is this reusable equipment?69%31%Is the walling surface reusable?68%32%Is the walling system designed specifically for your building?69%31%Do you use eco-friendly paints?47%53%Do you have green exhibition materials you could recommend?9%91%
Other comments regarding exhibition builds included:
; We are starting to use eco-friendly paints for light colours but are struggling to find dark colours ; We try to re-use exhibition materials for different exhibitions but we have 1 space to store these materials ; Temporary display walling is usually made of MDF. We always try to use some of the walls for the next
exhibition, sometimes moving or cutting them, but that is usually difficult because of exhibition designs ; Issues of conservation are very important when selecting materials. Consequently we don’t use things that
are easily biodegradable. These materials tend to be tested for their effect on the collections rather than
their green credentials. It would be good to have more guidance here
; Recycle timber flooring material
; We us free standing baffles to section galleries and increase wall hanging space. These walls are heavy, but
are easily moved with use of hydraulic lifts
; Recommendation: agrifiber board and homasote (see www.ecoexhibits.org), Modular Wall System -
Almost no information is provided on how the re-use or environmental disposal of MDF – the ‘quasi
standard’ walling surface material - is being done. This lack of firm information, together with the fact that 69% of participants acknowledge the use of a walling system designed specifically for their buildings, suggests from an environmental point of view a need (31%) to develop and produce more types of standard, re-usable or recyclable materials and eco-friendly walling systems. The following question regarding storage of course is also an issue when investing in ‘systems’.
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Section 6 – Exhibition Making Process: Recycled materials
The most commonly recycled material from exhibition builds are wood (65%), MDF particle boards (51%), metal (51%), perspex/acrylic (46%), and old paint (44%). Less common was the recycling of plasterboard/gyproc, at only 25% of the participating institutions.
Graph 5 –Recycled materials
MDF particle board
As to storage space for exhibitions materials, 27% of institutions have an on-site storage space, 18% off-site, 33% have both on-site and off-site, and 23% has neither.
Graph 6 –Storage Facilities
on site only
off site only
Finally, 85% of the institutions donate unwanted furniture to others after an exhibition is finished.
Other comments about recycling of exhibition build materials included:
; Use water based paint
; Dispose of old materials through a recycling firm
; Limited space off-site for items such as plinths
; Wall colours are often maintained instead of being totally repainted and label foam card is recovered with
; Wood, paint and perspex recycled via schools and staff; display furniture advertised with UKRG and
contacts; off site storage with external build contractors
; Acrylic and metal is usually recycled to make mounts
; Contractor collects demo materials
; May start requiring gyproc(plasterboard) vendors to recycle
; Recycle exhibition graphic panels and banners.
There seems to be an evident connection between the percentage of institutions that use temporary display systems with re-usable walling surfaces and the percentage of institutions that have enough storage facilities. Accordingly, such good practice should be analysed and reflected in the planning phase of new buildings and external storage facilities.
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Section 6 – Exhibition Making Process: Crating for International Loans
Only slightly above half of the participants have ever used ready made hire crates for their own collection loan-outs (56%). Of these, the vast majority (84%) believed this had been an economic alternative, and most thought they would use it again in the future (93%).
Modular or collapsible crating was far less popular, with only 14% of participating institutions having tried it. Two thirds of the institutions believed that stackable crating could be a ‘greener’ and economic possibility for
crating, and 63% responded they would allow them in their freight transfers, as the table below shows.
Table 5 – Crating for International Loans
YES NO Ever used ready made hire crates for your collection loan outs? 56% 44% Was this economic? 84% 16% Would you use again in the future? 93% 7%
Have you experienced modular/collapsable crates? 14% 86% Is there any special green new crating material you could recommend? 6% 94% Do you think stackable crating is a possibility and if so would you allow in your freight transfers? 63% 37%
Other comments regarding crating included:
; We reuse crates by refitting interiors
; We have tried to keep and recycle old crates as much as possible but a lack of storage space is a serious
; We gave away successfully a large number of crates to small art galleries and commercial galleries by
advertising on the local museum press. Generally however, disposing/recycling of old crates and exhibit
furnishings is a big problem
; For little pieces we use small suitcases we keep and re-use
; New Zealand regulation requires all crate materials to meet ISPM 15 regulations, which limits use of
; We are planning to start a research program -together with several other European museums, research
centers, and crate fabricators- to evaluate the feasibility of alternative recycled materials - as plastics - for
the fabrication of crates
; We have sometimes used ready-made crates, called SPS crates, provided by Spanish Transport agent SIT.
These are more economic than new wooden crates, but our conservators are not happy with them (paintings
are suspended inside the crate and they think the straps press the frames too much). Furthermore, these
cases are very heavy and packing operations are very lengthy, so the saving you get in crate construction is
spent in staff time
; We have also bought different size reusable lockable aluminium cases for smaller objects. But there are
issues with re-using crates with non-archival quality foam packing, as the foam can deteriorate and damage
; Artefacts & 3 dimensional objects because of the variety of sizes and shapes usually need specially made
; Stackable crating is an alternative for some objects but not for paintings
; We retrofit crates as much as possible; we keep 95% of our crates
; We are exploring the possibilities of recycling exhibition materials, and informally have a ‘take it home’
free program for staff. By no means is this a perfect system, but it beats throwing things away ; We have designed and produced a stackable, reusable crating system that we use to transport exhibition
materials to/from our museum sites
; Under certain circumstances stacking crates has occurred and could be done.
If – as the survey suggests- 93% of the 56% of participants that have used ready made hire crates for collection outward loans are willing to use them again in the future on a frequent basis, the specialised crating industry should be ready to start developing, promoting and distributing such packing products. However, this area of exhibitions logistics that could bring a huge impact in terms of addressing green practices will not be able to develop until the corresponding packing and crating standards are discussed, agreed and implemented at an international level. As part of this process stackable crate design and an industry standard weight/strength symbol needs to be developed.
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