Until recently, mechanical engineers did not possess their own professional technical resources to guide them in designing air-conditioning systems for museums, libraries, and archives when such systems were specified. Some of the information that engineers needed concerning environmental specifications was available but dispersed in many locations within the conservation literature.
Acknowledging this need, the American Society for Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) began a process in the late 1990s to add a chapter on air-conditioning systems in museums, libraries, and archives to their ASHRAE Handbook. This appeared as chapter 20 in the 1999 edition. Chapters in ASHRAE handbooks are the efforts of committees of recognized experts and are frequently revised. It is not uncommon for a new chapter to require several revisions at three-year intervals.
The GCI—in collaboration with the Canadian Conservation Institute, conservators, and several architects and engineers in private practice and academia—have begun the second revision. Changes will reflect a better balance of gaseous and particulate filtration with temperature and relative humidity needs of collections. There will also be a slightly altered overall organization to the chapter. This reference material will apply equally to new construction projects and to historic building retrofits.
Feedback on the current content of chapter 20 is eagerly sought from conservators and engineers alike. For further information, please contact either James Druzik or Cecily Grzywacz at the GCI. The project is expected to last for at least the next two years.