IAQ 2000, Presentation 19:

Tadj Oreszczyn*, Nigel Blades* and May Cassar+

Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College London *
Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries +

Universities and Museums: an account of work in progress - the UK DETR-funded research project' Energy Efficient Pollution Control in Museums and Galleries'


The UK Partners in Technology project 'Energy Efficient Pollution Control in Museums and Galleries' was carried out with the aim of improving the energy-efficiency of environmental control in museums and galleries by developing sustainable pollution control strategies. The study was a collaborative one, involving a university, five museums, and a filter manufacturer, all as active partners.


The objectives of the project were met by the following programme of work:

  1. Monitoring pollution concentrations in five buildings - two naturally ventilated (Dreadnought Study Collection Centre of the Horniman Museum and The Manchester Museum), two air-conditioned (Museum of London and the Theatre Museum) and one with a mixture of air-conditioned and naturally ventilated galleries (Victoria & Albert Museum).
  2. Producing a hierarchy of potential improvements to the building fabric and services to reduce pollutant levels while monitoring the implications these have for energy use.
  3. Performing intervention studies within four (Horniman Museum Dreadnought Study Collection Centre, Museum of London, The Manchester Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum) of the five buildings.
  4. Developing methods and prototype components to reduce pollutant concentrations by passive and active techniques.
  5. Produce design guidance for the heritage sector and the building services industry on how to choose the most appropriate pollution control strategy. (Guidance document to be published in December 2000. Details on how to obtain a copy are at the end of this abstract).


  1. Monitored pollution levels in several naturally ventilated storerooms at the Horniman Museum Dreadnought Study Collection Centre were found to be as low as in air-conditioned galleries with carbon filtration, such as those at the Museum of London.
  2. Internal surface deposition of pollutants reduced internal pollution concentrations by up to 90% in naturally ventilated storerooms, such as those at the Horniman Museum Dreadnought Study Collection Centre.
  3. Novel materials, such as the carbon-impregnated fabric tested at The Manchester Museum may act as passive pollution scavengers, reducing internal pollution concentrations in a naturally ventilated gallery or storeroom. More research is required to confirm this result.
  4. In air-conditioned carbon-filtered buildings, for pollution control to be effective the system must be correctly operated and maintained, and filters must be replaced with high-quality units at appropriate intervals.
  5. Air-conditioned buildings often operate at higher ventilation rates than naturally ventilated buildings and hence if they are not equipped with carbon filtration, higher internal pollution concentrations than in naturally ventilated buildings will occur.
  6. Localised carbon filtration can control internal pollution concentrations significantly even in buildings with high ventilation rates. The power consumption of one unit tested was 10.5 W m-2 of conditioned area, based on an area of 64 m2. The annual cost to run this, assuming continuous operation would be 5870 kWh. This is 1% of the estimated energy cost of a full museum air-conditioning with filtration system. Clearly, where it is necessary to control only a few localised zones it is more economic to install local units rather than a central system.
  7. Monitored external concentrations of nitrogen dioxide can be up to 50% higher at the front of a roadside building compared to the rear.


These conclusions are not only important to museums and galleries. They are equally relevant to other heritage buildings, such as libraries and archives. They are also important conclusions for designers and operators of more mainstream building types such as commercial and domestic premises.


For further information please contact:

May Cassar
Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries
16 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AA, U.K.
Phone: 020 7233 4200
Fax: 020 7233 3686
E-mail: may.cassar@resource.gov.uk

Prof Tadj Oreszczyn
Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, (Torrington Place Site), University College London
Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, U.K.
Phone: 020 7679 5906
Fax: 020 7916 3892
E-mail: t.oreszczyn@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Nigel Blades
Bartlett School of Graduate Studies (address as above)
Phone: 020 7679 5965
Fax: 020 7916 3892
E-mail: n.blades@ucl.ac.uk

The guidance document developed from this project, "Guidelines on pollution control in heritage buildings", will be published as a special supplement to the journal Museum Practice, and will be sent free to subscribers in December 2000. Further copies are available at a cost of £15 from: The Secretary, Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, (Torrington Place Site), University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.

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