The Toledo Museum of Art has taken a leadership role in the region in terms of green initiatives. Over the past 20 years, the Museum has cut its use of electrical power by 79 percent. As early as 1992, the Museum began replacing gallery lighting with energy efficient halogen lights and began using 3-watt LED night lights in the galleries instead of normal daytime lighting to save energy. Efficient fluorescent lights were installed in non-art areas, some with motion detectors.
The museum also installed energy efficient motors on mechanical system fans and pumps. These systems also have variable frequency drives that control the speed at which these fans and pumps operate so that energy demands are met, but the equipment doesn’t run at top speed all the time.
The latest addition to the Museum’s green arsenal is a brand new 360kW solar canopy installed over a large portion of the newly renovated main parking lot. The canopy nearly doubles the amount of renewable energy produced by the existing 200 kW solar array on the roof of the main Museum. On a sunny day it is estimated that 50% of the electrical demand for the 250,000 sq. ft. building is provided by the sun.
Four micro-turbines were installed in the power plant in 2004. They were joined by two more micro-turbines and chillers in the Glass Pavilion’s power plant in 2012. These generators are about the size of a refrigerator and burn natural gas. They produce 65 kW of electricity apiece and have been a cornerstone of the Museum’s energy saving efforts. With micro-turbine technology in place, the Museum has been able to generate 15 percent of its own electrical power, reducing it’s dependence on the electrical grid. Micro-turbines have many advantages, including:
- Pollute less than conventional systems
- Increased efficiency so they use less fuel
- Few moving parts (without oil lubricants)
- Burn a variety of fuels
- Durable and reliable (run 24/7)
- Immediate energy production
- Require little maintenance
- Create large amounts of energy in a small amount of space
- Work alone or in groups for capacity and redundancy
- Can generate electricity if the power grid fails