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History Museum saves on greener cooling

By Mandi Rice, St. Louis Public Radio

ST. LOUIS – The Missouri History Museum's president accepted a $90,000 check from Ameren Missouri Wednesday morning, rewarding the museum's increased energy efficiency. The benefit is part of AmerenUE's incentives program, and it offsets about a quarter of the cost of a new chiller for the museum's library building, on Skinker.

The chiller is already reducing the library's energy consumption by about a third, according to Tim Michels, who oversaw an energy audit earlier this year that recommended the change.

Energy savings are expected to cover the cost of the new chiller within six years.

Museum president Robert Archibald said the change was complicated by very specific needs.

"Because it's a library and collection center, we store a lot of very rare and very fragile material there," Archibald said. "The requirements are fairly stringent in terms of temperature and humidity."

The organization is now looking at ways to save energy at the museum building in Forest Park. Archibald says they may change their lighting and insulation, or start opening windows to cool some parts of the museum.

Archibald says that the museum is taking a long-range view on the issue, while enjoying short-term cost savings as well.

"As a historian I look at the directions and trends in human society, human cultures, human interactions with the planet and with each other," Archibald said. "It's an age of limits, and the whole world is going to have to tighten its energy belt."


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