North Carolina Museum of Art (September 19, 2017)

September Meeting

Join us on September 19th with Tim Gasper for a meeting on the North Carolina Museum of Art Performance Contract

Built in 1982, the four-level, 171,870 sq ft, North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) includes offices, exhibit spaces, and restaurant and catering operations. 25,000 visitors view the NCMA’s collection of treasures each month, worth in excess of $1 billion. The museum’s permanent collection spans from ancient Egypt to the present (more than 5,000 years), making the institution one of the premier art museums in the Southeast. Conservation experts and building operators work with the building and its systems to present and protect the collection for citizens and visitors of North Carolina to enjoy.

NCMA was experiencing swings of 30 percent humidity in the winter and up to 60 percent in the summer. What might have been a mere annoyance for another type of facility was a liability for the museum. Although facility managers knew the state’s budget did not afford the funds needed for system improvements, they also knew that without upgrades, the museum could potentially be an “artificial aging chamber” for its works of art. Besides preserving its treasures, the museum’s objectives included reducing its operational costs, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, as part of a wider sustainability program.

The NCMA project began with an energy audit by Jim Parker with the NCSU Industrial Extension Service. Using the NC PC bid process, NCMA requested upgrade proposals from design/build suppliers. The NC Department of Administration awarded Trane the state’s first capital improvement project funded by recently enacted PC legislation and processes. Performance contracting allowed the government-owned facility operators to finance renovations and improvements based on guaranteed future utility and operational savings. Energy conservation measures implemented include:

  • Controlling air flow and dew point
  • Centralizing humidity control
  • Top-to-bottom chilled water plant retrofit
  • Chiller tower optimization reduces energy use

Backed by the PC guarantee, NCMA was able to finance a complete retrofit of its HVAC and controls systems, lighting, and plumbing fixtures. NCMA is realizing annual savings of more than $500,000, a 58 percent reduction from the original utility and operating budgets and in excess of the guarantee. Humidity fluctuations have been reduced to only 5 percent. System upgrades have allowed the museum to move from a large to a small service tariff, reducing energy costs more than $30,000 a year.

“Without the upgrades, many traveling exhibits, including the American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell and Rembrandt, could not come to the state capital,” says Larry Wheeler, director for the North Carolina Museum of Art. “This tightly controlled museum environment is now protecting priceless collections for generations to come.”