Sustainability Matrix - Galleries, museums and archives

This is the fifth and last in the series of sustainability matrices published in the AJ in September 2010 under the title 'Decoding Sustainability'. It covers museums, galleries and archives. The matrix is a communication tool first developed in 2005 to help explain to the National Trust board of directors how their new headquarters building would meet their aspiration for 'best practice and occasional innovation in sustainability'. It helped to provide a balanced view of the broad range of sustainability issues.

At Max Fordham we use the matrices during early design to help communicate what sustainability driven decisions will mean to our clients; tailoring strategies and options to make each matrix project specific and keep up to date with changing technologies and standards. Boxes are highlighted so that the client and design team can visualise what sustainability targets the project can achieve within the budget. Further highlighting can identify where increased investment together with a reasonable payback could push the scheme further.

Galleries in particular are not traditionally the focus of energy consumption reduction, with an assumption that all spaces must be kept heavily conditioned despite changes in season so perhaps this matrix will help designers question such assumptions.  However with energy use closely related to visitor numbers is it fair to compare one museum or gallery directly against another using standard benchmarks?  A building that is enduring and uses the space to its maximum capacity is a sustainable building, servicing thousands and sharing energy and resources.

As a practice we think it important to drive the sustainability agenda and stimulate discussion, so versions of our current matrices were published in AJ and we welcome feedback on them. The examples in this series for four building types give an indication of what we could produce for your specific building project in order to help you decide your own sustainability agenda and how to communicate this successfully.

You can download the matrix on the right.

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