Go back to article: A sustainable storage solution for the Science Museum Group


The Hempcrete Museum Store is a step forward in providing sustainable controlled environment museum storage. While construction costs were approximately ten per cent higher than a traditionally constructed museum store (Moore, 2013), its running costs are less than half of a climate controlled space of the same size. The bio-based materials used have reduced the carbon footprint of its construction and the hemp-lime will continue to lock up CO2 for the duration of its use. The environmental conditions within the store are stable; when the building is in passive mode there are virtually no fluctuations in RH or temperature. When the mechanical air handling system is running, the buffering ability of the hygroscopic building material reduces the extent of fluctuations caused by heating or fan operation.

The store won three major awards in 2013 for innovation and sustainability both in the museum and the building industry sectors: Greenbuild Awards, Best Workplace New Build; Museums and Heritage Awards, Sustainability; Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) South West Built Environment Awards, Innovation[7].

The Hempcrete Museum Store may be used as a prototype for developing further sustainable museum storage for the Science Museum Group. Wroughton needs new large storage buildings to replace the ageing hangars. Building storehouses with hygroscopic materials may be part of the solution since they naturally provide the stable environment that collections require to ensure long-term preservation. Areas for further research include looking at passive alternatives to mechanical and engineering systems to reduce moisture storage and investigating more porous materials to coat interior walls. The possibility of fine particulate matter[8] drifting out of unsealed hemp-lime also needs to be established as well as the potential effect that the alkaline nature of hempcrete might have on acidic pollution from degrading paper, plastic and wood. An internal environment in a detached building may react differently to that of this store built inside a hangar, or alternatively building design may need to mimic the ‘building within a building’ concept. Some of these factors may be answered through continuing research being undertaken by the author at the University of Bath. Others may only be answered by building another storage building.



I would like to thank Louisa Burden, Matt Moore and Dennis Kelles-Krause, Science Museum Group, for their assistance in writing this article. I also wish to thank my supervisors, Dr Michael Lawrence and Dr Stephen Lo, University of Bath, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering for their support and encouragement.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/150405/014