Image showing archival storage area and its thermal imaging equivalent

Sustainability and reduction of carbon emissions are a concern across the cultural heritage sector. Dependency on energy hungry HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems to maintain unrealistic environmental conditions has become an issue of adaptation, working with existing infrastructure to reduce energy consumption, but continuing to meet collection needs.

The conversation was opened up with the inception of British Standards 4971 [1] and 16893 [2], which move away from restrictive environmental parameters and promote the use of passive storage, reflecting a more sustainable approach to archive preservation practice. However, this is a challenging issue for organisations of all sizes, which the Shutdown: Protecting collections in a changing climate exploratory roundtable event to be held at The National Archives on the 30th of April, seeks to address.

Developed by the University of Brighton Design Archives, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and working in collaboration with The National Archives, the event will explore and problem-solve the challenges of working with existing buildings housing archival collections whilst building capacity for more sustainable and cost-effective practices. The event is conservator-lead, driven by professionals from across the sector experimenting with reducing energy consumption whilst centring the historic collections in their care. It will facilitate discussion and discovery, sharing methodologies and evolving innovative approaches to this work, and will establish a support network for colleagues across the archive sector who seek a greener future for their collections.

This event is now full, but if you are a conservator or an archivist interested in joining the network, please contact Sirpa Kutilainen (


[1] BS 4971:2017 Conservation and care of archives and library collections
[2] BS 16893:2018 Conservation of cultural heritage – Specifications for location, construction and modification of buildings or rooms intended for the storage or use of heritage collections