After 20 years of green initiatives, the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio has seen energy savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars and can now boast that its 101-year-old Beaux Arts building recently went off the grid—in a temperate climate.
Carol Bintz, the building’s chief operating officer, said the projects started slow, with the museum replacing old boilers, chillers, and engine drives with “the most efficient products available on the market at that time,” back in 1992. The museum has since installed micro-turbines in the museum’s small-scale power plant and working glass shop. The six 65 kW turbines burn natural gas, producing electricity used onsite while using waste heat to heat water in the museum’s boilers through cogeneration. Hot air from the glass-blowing furnaces also gets re-circulated through the building during the winter. “The micro-turbines made a huge difference,” Bintz said, adding that they generate 15 percent of the museum’s electrical power and have a relatively short return on investment—four years.