43rd Annual Meeting – Sustainability session – May 15, 2015 – "Achieving Competing Goals: Energy Efficient Cold Storage" by Shengyin Xu et al

This presentation provides a case study from the Minnesota Historical Society for a cold storage unit that is inefficient and could perhaps provide better conditions within its given parameters. One problem with specialty storage is the high cost of running specialized environmental systems. So, what can one do for optimal conditions for cold storage yet still save on energy cost?
In 2012, an NEH Sustainability Planning Grant was secure to investigate the possibilities available for improving their cold storage. It is hoped that the collaborative design process could achieve better preservation condition in the long term and use energy savings more efficiently and potentially see actual savings.
Currently, their cold storage unit ran at 62F and 40%RH and was a very small space: 2% of their overall storage space. Its current conditions provided a Preservation Index (PI) of approximately 100. It utilized 7% of the Historical Society’s annual energy use, but wasn’t providing the conditions it needed for good cold storage of audiovisual collections.
The Historical Society went through a variety of condition and compared PI numbers to see what various conditions could provide in terms of collection storage longevity. Beyond that, they also investigated capital costs associated with retrofitting the unit to provide those conditions. Lastly, they examined the costs associated with running the unit for the long term. They balanced all three of these factors in order to come to a solution that would be beneficial on all three levels: collections environment, capital costs, and sustainability.
I will admit that I had a hard time following the flow of this presentation, especially toward the end when gears were shifted from environmental conditions of cold storage to air quality examination. One of the frustrating points of the presentation were these air quality tables that were too small to be legible on the screen.Visual charts would have been helpful to demonstrate the different air quality levels that were present and what they were trying to achieve. I also didn’t fully understand what this part of the presentation had to do with the rest of the talk.