Research Projects

The NEH-funded Sustainable Preservation Practices workshops and webinars from Series I and II are over, but you can access all the presentations in the Resources section of this site. IPI’s Sustainable Preservation Practices series have been extremely popular, reaching over 2,000 individuals in institutions around the world. IPI has applied to the NEH Education & Training Program for a third series, which will include:

    • five free workshops in museums and libraries in the US
    • nine free webinars on environmental management topics
    • several educational videos produced by IPI

Series III will continue to emphasize sustainable preservation practices for cultural institutions, optimization of mechanical systems, and energy cost reductions that don’t diminish the preservation quality of collection storage environments. As Series III develops you will find more information posted on this site and


IPI’s Research on Energy Saving Opportunities in Libraries (2009-2013), a major research project dealing with sustainable preservation practices in libraries, was funded by an IMLS National Leadership grant. This project investigated a promising method for libraries to achieve significant reductions in energy use, without compromising the preservation quality of collection environments, through a carefully monitored and risk-managed shutdown of air handling units during unoccupied hours. Five prestigious libraries from across the U.S.—Birmingham Public Library, Yale University Library, University of California LA Library, Cornell University Library, and the New York Public Library—partnered with IPI to help determine through experimentation and documentation whether it is feasible to save energy in this manner.

A PowerPoint presentation providing an overview of the Energy Saving Opportunities research and links to associated publications and conference presentations are included in the Resources section of this site.


An NEH Research & Development grant funded Methodologies for Sustainable HVAC Operation in Collection Environments (2010-2014), which focused on whether or not it was feasible to reduce energy use by dialing back temperature and relative humidity settings in storage areas during unoccupied night-time and weekend hours. This study was designed to determine, through laboratory testing, field study, and computer modeling, to what degree such actions adversely affect the preservation quality of collection storage environments.

Typical material configurations such as books on shelves, manuscripts in document boxes, maps in flat-file cabinets, prints and photographs in boxes, and paper in filing cabinets, were subjected to both short-term and sustained temperature and/or humidity changes, and the effects monitored at the surface and at the core of the materials using electronic temperature and humidity sensors.

Our goal is to develop a practical way for collection managers to assess the risks or benefits of dynamic changes in environmental conditions and to make informed environmental management decisions.


In 2013, IPI received an IMLS National Leadership grant to fund Demonstrating a Sustainable Energy-Saving Methodology for Library Environments (2013-2016). During this project IPI will develop and publish a methodological guide to achieving sustainable mechanical system operation without sacrificing preservation quality for use by libraries, archives, museums and other collecting institutions. IPI will work with closely with three partner libraries to test and refine the methodology. The goal is to show how institutions can successfully achieve a sustainable preservation environment without outside help.