PITTSFIELD ― Berkshire Museum has been awarded energy-incentive grants totaling $83,600 from Berkshire Gas and Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo) in partial funding for a project to incorporate energy-efficiency measures into the museum’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) building systems.
Berkshire Gas awarded $50,000, and WMECo provided $33,600 for an innovative solution to control humidity, which is necessary to protect the museum’s collections of art, historical objects, and natural specimens. The design innovation recycles the heat byproduct from a new high-efficiency chiller, thereby saving energy while providing humidity control.
The HVAC improvements were implemented over the past year as part of the museum’s 21st Century Energy project, which included changes to the building envelope and lighting systems, also with the aim of reducing energy consumption. An engineering study determined that the museum will reduce both electricity and gas use for an annual savings of $60,000 at current prices. Lead funding for the museum’s 21st Century Energy project was provided by a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in September 2012.
“We are thrilled to have contributed in this way to the important mission of the Berkshire Museum,” said Berkshire Gas President Karen Zink. “Innovative energy-management technologies and practices will allow visitors to experience the treasures of the past and present well into the future. We salute the Berkshire Museum for their work, their professionalism, and their commitment to providing a first-rate museum for the Berkshires.”
Added Tilak Subrahmanian, vice president of energy efficiency at Northeast Utilities, WMECo’s parent company, “WMECo is proud that our expertise using the latest technology to control temperature and humidity is helping prevent damage to precious artifacts. Our energy-efficiency experts are well aware that uniform climate control helps the museum attract sought-after collections, as well as making it comfortable for the people who come to see them.”
Berkshire Museum Executive Director Van Shields said that “the representatives from WMECo and Berkshire Gas played a critical role in helping us sort through different approaches to control temperature and humidity, while improving energy conservation. Having their expertise on the design team from the very beginning helped us create the innovative solution to meet our needs. We are very grateful to our energy providers for their proactive participation in helping design systems to conserve energy, and for the grants that helped us implement our plans.”
Located at 39 South St. in downtown Pittsfield, Berkshire Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 for adults, $6 for children, and free for members and children age 3 and under. For more information, visit www.berkshiremuseum.org or call (413) 443-7171.