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An aspect that has deterred many institutions in pursuing better environments for their collections and structures is the expense and complexity of the design, installation and maintenance of environmental systems.  This project investigated a means of improving the environment at lesser expense and more ease.

The project investigated the use of “smart” ventilation as a viable means to modify and improve the environment without the cost of air conditioning and building envelope retrofit.  The concept was to bring in (filtered) outside air to moderate the interior environment when outside relative humidigy levels were favorable and to enhance air movement and circulation.  The Clermont Visitor’s Center HVAC system was adapted as an environmental prototype system.  The visitor center is located in an historic wood frame carriage house in Germantown, New York.

Much was learned during this project.  The ability does exist to adapt rather than replace pre-existing environmental systems.  The use of “smart” ventilation can effectively cool a building.  Site staff need to communicate of project results will be – and how (or how not) personal expectations would be met.  The concept of a “low cost” environmental system needs to be accurately defined for  the project.  Building and collection selection is important.  There are collections that require stringent and non-varying environmental control.  However, many historic collections have never been exposed to controlled environments.  Deviation from strict guidelines is permissible when dealing with them.  Moderation of their environment will still aid in their long-term preservation.

This project was made possible through Grant MT-0424-4-NC-17 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).

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