NEH Award to Upgrade CRL Collections Environment

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Patrick Lummen -

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded CRL an implementation grant of $159,720 to improve monitoring and control of the temperature and humidity in CRL’s 93,750 square feet of collection storage space. This will be the latest in a series of major improvements made recently by CRL to the environment and security of its unique and valuable collections.

The award will be used to to upgrade CRL’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system  to cutting-edge temperature and humidity controls, and will increase cost savings by switching to open-source software controls. 

In 2011, two of the four rooftop chillers of the CRL collections facility, located in Hyde Park, Chicago, were replaced. While these new chillers have made the facility’s HVAC system more efficient and reliable, their impact has been limited by outdated controllers and sensors. With this award from the NEH, CRL will finally be able to maximize the positive effects of these chillers.

In recent years CRL made other significant improvements to its collections facility.  CRL’s lighting system was upgraded to reduce collection exposure to ultraviolet rays and to greatly increase energy efficiency. For this effort, CRL received recognition from Bluestar Energy Solutions, highlighting an annual energy reduction of 316,485 kWh. The benefit of the new lighting was increased by the subsequent installation of motion sensors to the lights in the stacks. 

A major revamp and repair was made to CRL’s roof. This project resealed worn seams in the roof membrane and repaired other potential problem areas to help ensure that CRL’s collections are well protected from the threat of moisture and the elements.

Finally, CRL recently completed a total re-caulking/re-sealing of our building exterior. This effort included both stripping and re-caulking all of the exterior building joints, as well as sealing all cracks in the exterior façade. These improvements to the building envelope will greatly aid in our efforts to maintain temperature and humidity at acceptable preservation levels.