The concept of an optimal preservation environment—one that achieves the best possible preservation of collections with the least possible consumption of energy—forms the foundation of IPI’s environmental management philosophy.

IPI has been active in the development of sustainable practices to improve the preservation quality of storage and display environments since the late 1990s. Working in partnership with the energy management consulting firm Herzog/Wheeler & Associates, IPI has taken its experience with material preservation research and environmental assessment into the field to explore and develop a cross-disciplinary approach between building engineers, facility managers, collection staff, and preservation specialists.

IPI remains deeply involved in laboratory research, fieldwork, and consulting in sustainable environmental management. In the laboratory we are exploring how rates of thermal and moisture equilibration can be used to advantage in lowering energy consumption or protecting objects from uncontrolled adverse conditions. Beyond the laboratory we have helped institutions use less energy through controlled shutdowns of mechanical systems, altering seasonal set points, reducing airflows and reducing outside air quantities. One thing is abundantly clear – the path forward for sustainable environmental management is cross disciplinary in nature, including collection care, facilities management, and administrative staff.

IPI’s environmental management work is made possible with very generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


About the Image Permanence Institute

The Image Permanence Institute (IPI) is an academic research center in the College of Art and Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) dedicated to supporting the preservation of cultural heritage collections in libraries, archives, and museums around the world. IPI achieves this mission by maintaining an active preservation research program that informs and advances professional-level education and training activities, publications, consulting services, and the development of practical preservation resources and tools.


Photo Credit: University of Kansas Libraries