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Thursday, May 29 • 11:10am - 11:30am
(Opening Session) Quantifying cost effectiveness of risk treatment options (aka preventive conservation)

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The Canadian Conservation Institute has developed a risk assessment method during the last 10 years in collaboration with ICCROM and the national conservation agency of the Netherlands (formerly ICN, now RCE). It is called the “ABC method” after the three components used to calculate risk. A: frequency of events or rate of the process, B: % loss of value to affected objects, C: % of collection value represented by the affected objects. In the last four years, we have done comprehensive risk assessments of various types of heritage institutions in Canada in order to discover what patterns of risk emerge for each type of institution. These patterns will guide our future advice to museums, as well as guide our institute’s research.

Our reports make recommendations for risk reduction. One to five options are identified for each risk. Remaining risk for an option is determined by analyzing the risk as if the option has been implemented. The risk reduction for that option is therefore the original risk minus the remaining risk. For each option, initial capital cost and annual maintenance cost are estimated. Initial cost is spread over the time horizon chosen for the institution (default 30 years). Cost-effectiveness is calculated as risk reduction divided by the cost. On average, for a single institution, we have analyzed about 30 risks and 60 options.

Within the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic, social/cultural, in business terms the so-called triple bottom line – we have at this point quantified measures to inform the economic indicator (option costs), the social/cultural indicator (risk reduction), and their interrelation (cost-effectiveness).

In the analysis done for a historic house with furniture and objects on permanent display, the method established that the overall risk to collection plus building due to incorrect relative humidity was lowest if the already minimal winter RH control was only slightly modified. This option was also low in capital and ongoing energy costs. In the analysis done for a large archive, the method allowed us to quantify the benefits of an expensive option (a new facility) that reduced many current risks, and to compare that option to ongoing digitization as a preservation strategy.

We are currently considering how environmental issues can be added in a similarly quantitative manner to the evaluation of options. Already, one is inundated with “green” marketing when researching actual building or hardware options for clients. It is also common for clients to be asking us about “green” options being promoted by their consultants and any layer of government that provides funding, e.g., special grants for switching to LED lighting, but none of this is systematic or quantified. LEED scoring is a check-list rather than a quantified accounting, and at present applies only to new construction. The obvious parameter to consider is carbon footprint, and one of our new staff (S. Lambert) brings experience with this approach.

avatar for Stefan Michalski

Stefan Michalski

Senior Conservation Scientist, Canadian Conservation Institute
STEFAN MICHALSKI Senior Conservation Scientist, Canadian Conservation Institute Hon. B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics, Queen’s University, Canada, 1972 For 35 years, Stefan has researched and provided advice on both collection preservation and object treatments. He has published... Read More →

avatar for Irene Karsten

Irene Karsten

Preservation Development Advisor, Canadian Conservation Institute
Irene Karsten has an MSc (1998) and PhD (2003) in Human Ecology with specialization in textile conservation science from the University of Alberta (Edmonton) as well as a Diploma in Art Conservation Techniques (1994) from Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. She was the Conservator... Read More →

Thursday May 29, 2014 11:10am - 11:30am PDT
Grand Ballroom A-C