Hurricane Sandy HVAC Shutdown Survey

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      Karen Morton

      The Image Permanence Institute has been studying the use of shutdowns and set-backs for creating sustainable preservation environments on a small scale in our lab and on a large scale with field trials in real institutions while teaching institutions how to figure out their own best sustainable environment practice for a few years. In the process, we have developed a number of metrics and tools for measuring the impact of the sustainable environment on the stored archival materials. Hurricane Sandy has opened an opportunity to study forced longer-term shutdowns on the environments in cultural institutions and, in the bigger picture, may also produce a greater understanding of the costs of Sandy on collections beyond the immediate flood-damaged material. As a result, we’re currently collecting information from affected institutions. At the very least, we hope to collect some very basic and anecdotal information; at best, we hope to have the opportunity to examine environmental information from data loggers, building systems, and hygrothermographs during the affected period to see how institutions fared with regard to environmental changes. The period is, of course, too short for a number of our tools to be useful, but the Time Weighted Preservation Index can be algebraically converted to say something like, “Four days of Sandy without HVAC is equivalent to X days under your normal conditions with regard to natural aging.” Real data from the affected period can also form a starting point to play-out “what if” scenarios as well. We therefore feel that analysis of environmental data during this period will provide insights into sustainable environments that would not be possible using cautiously controlled studies. The survey can be found at, all responses will be kept anonymous in the event that any findings are published or used for educational purposes. If possible, we would be delighted if you could forward this survey to any other institutions affected by Hurricane Sandy who may be willing to share their experiences. Sincerely,
      Shae Trewin

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