"Museums, as essential contributors to our educational infrastructure, play a critical role in engaging the public in environmental issues, with a unique ability to connect all Americans to the great 21st century challenge of ensuring a sustainable planet for generations to come. The American Association of Museums will encourage our member institutions to put their scholarship and creativity behind Earth Day and its 40th anniversary.”

Ford W. Bell
American Association of Museums

Goal 1
Environmental Programming

Museums and art venues have countless ways to educate about the environment:

* Develop an exhibit or tour based on environmentally-related items already within your collection.
* Host an environmental-related education program, workshop, speaker or panel and invite your members and the community at large to attend.
* Hold an environmental-related performance, such as dance, music, poetry or a play that pertains to the environment.
* Provide an evening tour of exhibits that are environmentally-related, followed by a reception.
* Host children’s activities with an environmental theme.
* Give green tours highlighting any of your sustainability measures (see Goal #2 below).
* Expand on Earth Day Network’s global education curriculum by allowing us to highlight environmental items in your collection or sustainability practices you are taking.
* On Earth Day, or during the month of April, sponsor a collection or donate a percentage of any entrance fees to a global environmental organization such as Earth Day Network or a local cause.
* Partner with museums and other art venues in other cities, states or countries through our network.
* Provide a community service such as a site cleanup, tree planting, electronic recycling collection drive, organize an eco-mural, host a farmers’ market or become a distribution site for community supported agriculture.
* Allow free or reduced entry fees to visitors who bike or take public transportation to your institution on Earth Day, April 22, or during the month of April.

Goal 2
Sustainability of Facilities and Reducing Carbon Footprint

Buildings, due to the large amounts of energy required to operate and maintain them, are huge contributors to CO2 emissions. There are many opportunities to minimize a building’s carbon footprint through better management, implementation of new technologies, and encouragement of employee behavioral changes.

Here are some policy implementation ideas for increasing your institution’s sustainability and reducing your operation's carbon footprint:

* Use the minimum amount of energy possible by encouraging simple measures such as lightbulb replacement with energy efficient lighting sources, use of motion-sensor lights, and encouraging employees to turn off lights when not in use.
* Enhance your building’s energy efficiency by replacing windows and doors with energy efficient models and by insuring proper insulation. Some buildings are installing green roofs to increase insulating properties.
* Use renewable resources, instead of fossil fuels, for heating, cooling and power. Renewable and more energy-efficient electricity systems -- including solar photovoltaic cells, geothermal systems, wind turbines, and biomass combustion -- often have longer paybacks but tax incentives which vary by state can make these affordable.
* Replace equipment such as appliances, office equipment, consumer electronics, and other hardware with energy efficient products. This will result in lower electricity bills.
* Retrofit your building’s water fixtures to reduce water use and to save on hot water heating. Such measures will reduce the energy used in water treatment, distribution and wastewater conveyance. This type of retrofitting is relatively low-cost and easy to perform and will lead to reduced water costs.
* Reduce your institution’s transportation impacts by reducing the amount of travel for exhibits and personnel, and use video-conferencing when possible.
* When traveling, rent hybrid vehicles or take public transportation and stay in “green” hotels.
* Use sustainable vehicles and fuel conservation strategies. For example, when replacing fleet vehicles, purchase hybrid cars and trucks, or purchase the most fuel efficient models.
* Provide incentives for your employees to use public transportation, to carpool and to telecommute when feasible.
* Buy less paper and supplies and replace with recycled and reusable materials.
* Green your IT as appropriate, for example: use server virtualization; set your electronics on auto-sleep mode during off hours; purchase multi-function devices to replace single purpose printers, photocopiers and fax machines; replace existing computers with Energy Star 4 models; include new collaborative tools such as Window’s Live Meeting, Groove and Office Communicator – thereby allowing staff to collaborate on-line and further reduce the need for business travel.
* Reduce indoor pollutants by purchase eco-friendly products such as those with low volatile organic chemicals. For example, choose low toxicity cleaning supplies, furniture, cabinetry, paints and stains.
* Reduce waste by using reusable products, recycling, and on-site composting.
* Investigate green exhibiting options.
* Ensure outdoor areas have appropriate storm water management (e.g., through the use of permeable hardscapes, driveways, rain barrels and/or cisterns).
* Reduce the use of pesticides.
* Source food and products locally when possible.

Goal 3
Communication of Actions

The museums and arts communities have a unique ability to raise awareness and educate through action and programming. You can be a leader in the environmental movement by communicating your environmental policy initiatives and educational programming to your patrons, supporters, and the public at large.

Ideas include:

* A sustainability page on your organization's website
* A blast email to your organization's listserve setting forth your environmental goals
* Fundraising efforts to help achieve the above goals
* Public programs that discuss your organization's efforts
* Press releases
* Exhibits
* Speakers
* Reporting environmental accomplishments to Earth Day Network for inclusion on our Arts for the Earth™ webpage which is designed as a forum sharing site for green ideas in the museum community, art world and beyond
* Blog about your organization's environmental programming and practices
* Use FaceBook and Twitter to communicate your organization's environmental programming and practices