California Association of Museums's Climate Action Contribution
About California Association of Museums's Climate Efforts
The Green Museums Initiative Committee (GMI) was established by the California Association of Museums (CAM) Board of Directors in 2006. Its mission is to inspire California museums to develop green business practices, eco-friendly facility management, and sustainable programming.
In 2019, GMI launched a new series of monthly conversation starters covering a wide variety of topics to create dialogue around environmental sustainability and greening museum practices.
Search for the hashtag #GreenMuseumMusings on LinkedIn.
Sustainability at the Annual Conference and CAM Events
With the support and guidance of GMI, CAM makes the following efforts to ensure the annual conference and other events are environmentally-friendly:
• Vegetarian meals served at the conference hotel/by the event caterer, unless attendee requested otherwise
• Registration tote bags and lanyards made from recycled plastic bottles
• Conference t-shirts made from post-consumer recycled plastic
• Badge holders made of 100% compostable material
• Banners printed on biodegradable and recyclable material using non-toxic latex inks
• Conference program printed on 60% recycled paper, 30% PCW using 40% less paper than comparable publications
• Carbon offset donations made possible during the conference registration process to benefit Carbonfund.org to help reduce and offset our climate impact
The Secretary’s Award for Excellence
This Sustainability award program was established in 2018, recognizing outstanding achievements in sustainability by California museums in the areas of public education and internal operations. The competition is the joint project of CAM and the California Natural Resources Agency. Members of GMI accept and review applications and nominations, and the California Natural Resources Agency approves the projects recommended by the committee. Winning projects are presented with the award at the Annual Secretary's Award Ceremony and
Green Museums Seminar.
Annual Green Museums Seminar
The Annual Green Museums Seminar features case studies and panel discussions on programmatic and operational initiatives that museums are leading to help address climate change, energy conservation, and other environmental concerns, organized by members of GMI. The event coincides with the Secretary's Award for Excellence in Sustainability ceremony.
Join us to network with museum professionals who are at the forefront of greening museums!
We Are Still In and the Green Museums Accord
The Green Museums Accord was one of GMI's first activities and served as inspiration to American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) professional network on environmental sustainability, PIC Green, in its formative years. In 2013, CAM and AAM teamed up to take the Green Museums Accord to the national level and encourage even greater participation in the effort to make museums and communities “green”! The Green Museums Accord was an institution-wide pledge to be environmentally responsible. Click here to see a list of Green Museums Accord signers.
In 2019, GMI made the decision to transition from the Green Museums Accord to sign on to We Are Still In and encourage CAM members to do the same. The We Are Still In declaration is a promise that Americans would not retreat from the global pact to reduce emissions and stem the causes of climate change.
Sustainable Sessions at the CAM Conference
GMI committee members work hard each year to organize conference sessions, case studies, and roundtable discussions related to sustainability, climate action, and natural disaster recovery. Examples of topics presented include:
• Greening Exhibit Practices
• Cultural Responses to Disaster: The Inspiration of Puerto Rico
• We Are Still In: Climate Change, Sustainability and Museums
• Listening for Common Ground ("Engaged Listening")
• Museums Leading the Way in Building an Earthquake Resilient California
Climate Action Commitments
Current Climate Actions California Association of Museums Is Taking:
Commit to Becoming an Environmentally Responsible Cultural Institution
In adopting a leadership role as an environmentally responsible cultural institution, and institution would commit to pursuing some or all of the following:
- Measure and make public its environmental impacts; set goals for continuous improvement; and evaluate progress and effectiveness.
- Develop a plan and timeframe for becoming climate neutral, and eventually climate positive.
- Demonstrate leadership by exceeding existing environmental codes, regulations, and professional standards as appropriate, e.g. setting energy efficiency goals that would be higher than what existing regulations require.
- Review investments and set a timeframe for investing in a socially responsible portfolio that excludes fossil fuel companies.
- Identify risks resulting from climate change, and take steps to anticipate and mitigate risks and damage for itself and, in collaboration, on behalf of the community.
Commit to Reducing Materials Consumption and Waste
Institutions can significantly reduce the impact of materials use through life-cycle planning, choosing low-impact materials, and developing convenient, clear, waste-management approaches. Begin by conducting materials or waste audits for regular activities such as exhibit construction, special events, office operations, food service areas, and gift shops. Then, by piloting new practices in specific departments or single events or time periods, you can develop tools and procedures that significantly reduce waste through simple practices. Associated with this commitment, institutions could:
- Commit to Zero Waste (90% diversion from landfil)
- Recommended Targets:
- Divert 60/75/85% institutional waste from landfil by 2020/2025/2030
- Reach zero waste to landfill by 2030
- Set construction waste diversion targets by project
- Recommended Targets:
- Commit to Eliminating Single-Use Consumer Plastics
- Recommended Targets:
- Eliminate single use water bottles on site by 2020
- Institute a plastic bag ban on site by 2020
- Eliminate single use beverage bottles on site by 2022
- Recommended Targets:
Commit to Community Education and Communication
Commit to offering education opportunities that are designed for staff, adults, and children, and feature information on clean energy, stewardship, individual/household climate actions, climate advocacy, and any other applicable subjects. The importance of building environmental literacy in changing habits and perceptions is profound, and organizations and institutions trusted to convene the community are among the most impactful educators.
Commit to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutant Emissions
Short-lived climate pollutants—such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—are powerful climate warmers many times more potent than CO2 over their lifetimes. Because they are short-lived in the atmosphere, actions to reduce these super pollutants can have substantial, near-term climate, agricultural and health benefits and are an essential complement to CO2 reduction strategies. Policy-makers can announce regulatory or voluntary approaches to drastically reduce SLCPs, such as developing methane strategies or adopting rules on use of warming HFCs. Organizations can commit to engage with suppliers to provide training, conduct pollutant inventories, and establish systems for tracking, measuring, and monitoring these types of emissions. Analysis shows that SLCP emissions can be cost-effectively reduced by an estimated 40-50 percent by 2030.
Policymakers, companies and organizations are encouraged to accept the #SLCPChallenge of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which calls for ambitious action on SLCPs. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards reduction, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.
Commit to Reduce Climate Impacts of Packaging and Reducing Waste
There are many ways to reduce the climate impact of packaging including reducing materials (i.e., “source reduction”); replacing virgin materials with post-consumer recycled content; replacing traditional plastics made from fossil fuels with biopolymers; re-designing packaging to be more compact and therefore efficient for transport and storage; using biodegradable packing materials; and recycling at end of the packaging’s life to name just a few practices.
Commit to Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy
While individual organization action is necessary, local and federal government action is also needed to reach global climate goals. Your organization can have a critical voice in advancing public policy. A commitment to responsible engagement in climate policy means that your organization commits to supporting public policy to: promote energy efficiency and renewable energy; increase investment in a clean energy economy; support climate change adaptation, or put a price on carbon.
Commit to Building Climate Resilience in your Community
By committing to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate, companies and institutions can secure their operations and supply chains and conserve natural resources that are stressed due to climate change. While there is much a business can do within their community, primary among these options is reducing water usage. Organizations can commit to increase their own water security through a range of actions, including installing water-saving devices, capturing rainwater for onsite uses, and recycling grey water. Or just commit to get engaged with your community in resilience planning.
Commit to Reducing the Climate Impact of Your Transportation
Organizations making a commitment to reduce the climate impact of transportation should consider practices such as measuring transportation greenhouse gas emissions and setting reduction targets, switching fuels, optimizing the efficiency of shipping operations, and reducing transit- and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses can develop a green transportation action plan to map the movement of goods to market and identify opportunities to increase efficiency. Organizations can buy hybrid and electric vehicles within their own fleet, and can reduce the footprint of their workforce through incentivizing public transportation, installing EV charging stations, promoting telework, and locating near transit centers.
Commit to Designing and Hosting a Cross-Sectoral Forum at your Institution
Commit to holding a public campus and community forum or workshop on shared climate action plan goal setting and/or resilience assessments. These forums will compare baseline targets and align the strengths of the respective sectors to drive solutions. This is awarded as a Mark of Distinction for Second Nature Commitment Signatories.
CAM has the FTE of 2.7 regular employees, tasked with managing the day-to-day operations and implementing programs. CAM became a “virtual organization” in December 2018; the four employees work virtually from their homes in San Francisco, Watsonville, and Los Banos.