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Friday, May 17 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Sustainability) Life Cycle Assessment: A New Tool for Cultural Heritage Preservation

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This presentation will discuss how custodians of cultural heritage have begun to employ the industry standard software tool called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental impact of materials and actions that curators, conservators, registrars and art handlers employ. LCA is a systems modeling tool useful for quantifying the total resource inputs and environmental burdens of a particular method or product. Through a US-based, federally funded National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) project, FAIC spear headed research that has resulted in creation of an initial, free, online library and beta tool. The library houses LCA of materials and methods related to preservation of cultural heritage and the beta tool draws from an initial database of materials used for cultural heritage, created specifically during this project. Both the library and the beta tool provide collections care professionals with guidance to achieve sustainable goals through informed choices. The presentation will report on the LCAs performed to date, all addressing different aspects of maintaining cultural heritage: cleaning methods and their environmental and human health impact, cradle-to-gate impact of manufacturing, using and displaying three 17th and 18th century silver objects, and comparisons of varied storage environment. The lists and categories that populate the beta LCA tool will also be discussed along with plans for further populating the tool and identifying additional LCAs for the library. In fulfilling the NEH grant, the project managers found many challenges and accomplishments while creating the beta tool and conducting the three pilot LCAs. The issues learned and information acquired will be useful in defining the terms for the Tier 2 implementation grant application where the full tool and library will be realized. The final project will be freely available to users worldwide, and will support further research in preventive conservation, treatment, and exhibition through conducting material analysis, organizing knowledge and sharing it openly. This project has already allowed for expansion of historic preservation through working with allied professionals, and consequentially learning about new tools, resources, and methods.

avatar for Sarah Nunberg

Sarah Nunberg

Conservator, The Objects Conservation Studio, LLC
Sarah Nunberg, principal of The Objects Conservation Studio, LLC, has been working as a conservator since 1989. She specializes in conservation of archaeological, ethnographic, decorative and contemporary art, treating objects made of wood, ceramic, stone, metal, glass, skin, leather... Read More →

avatar for Matthew Eckelman

Matthew Eckelman

Assistant Professor, Northeastern University
Environmental engineering and sustainability; life cycle assessment; energy efficiency and emissions modeling; environmental assessment of bio and nanomaterials; material and energy use in urban buildings and infrastructure

Friday May 17, 2019 10:30am - 11:00am EDT
Shinnecock/Nipmuc Rooms Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Sustainability