Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NYC 2019: Proposed Climate Summit - let's showcase museums and others as valued "subnational actors"

The UN Secretary General is outlining ways to accelerate climate action in advance of the 2019 Climate Summit. The goal is significant impacts on reducing emissions and building resilience. The focus was these six items:

  • clean technology
  • carbon pricing
  • the energy transition 
  • risk mitigation
  • augmenting the contribution of sub-national actors and business
  • mobilizing finance.  
This speaks to the informal learning fields directly: our museums, zoos, gardens, and sites are critical the "sub-national actors" in all of this work to engage the public in understanding, supporting, and taking action in all these areas.  

Secretary-General António Guterres told about 20 world leaders that
  • “Your leadership is absolutely key to attaining and raising the ambition of the Paris Agreement." 
  • "We need all actors in society to work for a resilient and low emissions future – national and local governments, businesses and investors, scientists, civil society and citizens everywhere.
  • We need to build ambition and accelerate action – before it’s too late.”
Despite, perhaps because, US leaders were conspicuously absent at this high level meeting, let's see the work of our institutions, along those of our cities and states, at the forefront of the great stories coming out of Climate 2019. 


Sunday, September 17, 2017

A King, a Palace, and LEDs

Many historic sites are in great homes that were built and owned by those with passionate interests in the latest technologies for their time. The James J. Hill House and Glensheen Mansion, both in Minnesota, come to mind. So does Hawai'i's Iolani Palace: King David Kalakaua's home had electricity in 1886, five years before The White House did, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's recent article (the interior photo in the paper is the shot to see!).

In keeping with the King's interest in electricity and innovation, that staff have replaced one thousand incandescents with 4.5-watt LEDs throughout the building. The Palace staff and a consultant tested multiple versions, ultimately finding the approach that provided the color and appearance appropriate for the 1886 site.

Now, visitors can see the details of the marvelous interior and the collections materials so much more easily without risk of UV exposure from the lights or from added light through open windows. Meanwhile the Palace saves $1200 a month in energy bills while fully-supporting its educational mission. The program was paid for by a grant from the legislature and a rebate through the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

I had seen this developing during my last visits to Iolani Palace, and noted another smart choice as well: all guests and staff wore some form of booties to protect the floors in the main areas of the Palace. These shown at the right are the reusable ones we guests slipped on before our visit. Think how much energy, time, and cleaning and refinishing materials they save by using these to protect the restored floors and carpeting. And think, too, how much waste they avoid each year by having reusables rather than single-use booties! That matters anywhere, and even more on an island. Mahalo nui loa, Iolani Palace staff!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

AASLH 2017 Conference Session on Sustainability for the Field

In our session I tested our group's observation skills. I invited them to enter the raffle for two free copies of Environmental Sustainability at Historic Sites and Museums by writing down (on reused paper) what green practices they had noticed at the 2017 AASLH conference.

The attendees were impressed with what they'd seen AND they suggested I share that with others to give AASLH credit. I agree. Let's share the good work wherever we can. Here's what we saw:

  • Lots of reusable water bottles in use 
  • Porcelain coffee mugs instead of disposable coffee cups
  • Recycling containers/bins
  • No single-use disposables at lunches
  • Dual flush toilets
  • Working toward the app to replace the printed conference program someday
  • People walked more than they normally would - around town, for exercise, up stairs instead of elevators
  • No Styrofoam!