How museums can balance comfort with artefact preservation

July 14, 2022

Museums walk a tightrope between providing comfortable conditions for patrons while ensuring environmental conditions are optimised to protect unique and fragile exhibits. Ensuring the right temperature and humidity are set and maintained is critical and requires a set of tools that can continuously monitor, provide feedback and allow control of these conditions to ensure a superior customer experience.

Tracking the performance across thousands of sensors requires a clear dashboard that not only shows where and when a problem occurs, but enables museum managers to dispatch service engineers to the right place. CIM’s PEAK Platform is a powerful building analytics solution helping to address this challenge for owners and operators of all building types, including cultural institutions.

How does the technology work?

The platform feature that is particularly valuable for museum operators is PEAK Indoor Environment (PEAK IE), which tracks thermal comfort and relative humidity against ideal comfort conditions and setpoint controls across all building zones and floors. The platform continuously monitors Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) data, combines it with HVAC equipment performance and ambient conditions data, then applies machine learning algorithms to offer deeper insights for indoor conditions control.

Critically, PEAK IE helps to answer the key investigative questions that form the basis of a museum environment that is both comfortable for patrons and safe for artefacts:

  • Which zones are too warm/ cool (thermal comfort) or humid/ dry (humidity)?
  • Which zones are not controlling to setpoint and require contractor attention?
  • Which sensors are broken (i.e. require maintenance focus from contractors)?
  • How are high priority zones underperforming (do they require priority attention)?
  • What is the daily comfort history for each individual zone?

There are established standards for comfort levels for people. But museums have very specific needs that must be monitored and controlled with great precision.

The PEAK Platform also does more than simply alert users to a zone that is outside the optimal operating conditions. The platform allows facilities management teams to immediately assign actions to a technician, with the required information already pre-filled into the support ticket.

Reduced environmental impact

An equally important consideration for cultural site operation is the need to reduce energy consumption and building operational costs, while meeting or upholding sustainability targets. Many of the artefacts held in museums are made of natural organic material particularly sensitive to environmental conditions. Carefully controlling these conditions is a very energy intensive undertaking. Building analytics provides a solution, by supporting a much more efficient approach to how we care for these treasured collections.

Building analytics platforms like PEAK help to control the internal environment through precise monitoring and analysis of every space. Rather than adopting the same energy approach per zone, HVAC usage is optimised based on the specific requirements of each room and artefact type. This reduces carbon emissions, lowers operating costs and drives greater levels of overall sustainability. Having a full record of tenant comfort levels also supports Indoor Environment performance targets, as part of NABERS for example.

Case Study: Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria, Australia’s largest public museum organisation has been in partnership with CIM since 2016.  Across four sites including Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks, Immigration Museum and their Moreland Annexe storage facility, CIM’s innovative PEAK building analytics platform is helping to embed a modern approach to their site management.

The level of visibility afforded by the platform allows the site teams to keep on top of a massive area of almost 100,000 sqm and more than 17 million precious collection items. PEAK is used to monitor almost 6,000 data points across over 600 pieces of equipment at the four sites.

Sean Langenberg, Building Engineer at Museums Victoria said “CIM has gone above and beyond to improve the performance of our portfolio. While statistical reductions in energy use are fantastic, the differentiator for us are the benefits that you can’t see. The PEAK Platform has empowered our team to deliver remarkable results in customer experience.”

Discover how the PEAK Platform can optimise your operations to drive efficiency, comfort and sustainability.

CIM Team
July 14, 2022