Prevention – Building Envelope

The building envelope is the barrier between the outdoor and indoor environments.  The following steps should be taken to create a successful barrier that keeps pests out:

First, its important to understand the ecosystem in which your institution is located. The region (e.g. Southwest v. Northeast) and location of your institution (e.g. near a body of water, surrounded by extensive landscaping, etc.) will factor into the environmental pressures and types of pests you will be prone to.

Second, identify the manner in which a building may become infested with pests and vermin. This includes analyzing the construction of the building and any additions, identifying routes of entry into the structure (e.g. cracks in roofs or walls, poorly sealed doors or windows). The IPM-WG has created a Building Envelope Tip Sheet that may be used as an inspection checklist for your building.  This inspection should, ideally be conducted with representatives from your IPM team including facilities, collections grounds and other staff as appropriate.  Bring a flashlight and be prepared to get a little dirty! The Checklist gives tips on what to look for in evaluating:

  • Foundation/walls/roof
  • Chimneys
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Drains
  • Air Intakes/Vents
  • Lighting
  • Vegetation and planting
  • Vertebrate pests
  • Standing water
  • Outdoor maintenance
  • Garbage

The IPM-WG has created a template document, Preventing Access Procedures, that can be used to create one geared to your institution. 

In 1997 The Canadian Museum of Nature opened their new headquarters and curatorial facility called the Natural Heritage Building.  With a collection highly vulnerable to pests, this facility was designed with IPM concerns in mind.  At the 2011 Pest Odyssey conference Marcie Kwindt and Laura Smyk presented Building with Pest Management in Mind: A Case Study from the Canadian Museum of Nature . Their talk reviewed the success of the building in preventing pest access.  They also created a useful accompanying chart detailing the incorporation, function, effectiveness and improvement of various building features.

The Integrated Pest Management Group at the Natural History Museum, London has created the Integrated Pest Management Advice for Space Planners and Designers and Cultural Property document to help Museum space planners, designers and architects understand how to create an unwelcoming and inhospitable environment for pests common in cultural heritage institutions.

Integrated pest management challenges in a retrofitted building for Yale Peabody Museum collections, by Lynn A. Jones and Raymond J. Pupedis, published in Collection Forum Spring 2011, Vol. 25:1-2 discusses the institution’s challenges in retrofitting the building envelope for safe housing of museum collections.  Copyright 2011 Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections. (Permission granted for use on museumpests.net)

The Riverside Municipal Museum’s presentation IPM Inside and Out: Pest Management as a Strategy for Improvements in Museum Practices, Museum Facilities and Public Understanding given at the 2003 Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections Annual Meeting (2003) explores the institution’s implementation of a CALEPA Department of Pesticide Regulation Pesticide Reduction Demonstration Project Grant, providing funds for staff time and training, pest monitoring supplies, and modification of the museum’s exterior environment through implementation of a new landscape design.

The Cornell University Libraries’ educational and training PowerPoint presentation on Integrated Pest Management gives an overview of IPM practices with good information on preventing access at the building level. The presentation created in 2007 by Joan M. Brink also gives descriptions of insects and rodent pests that affect library and archive collections with pictures of damage to these types of materials.

Conservation and Collections Management staff at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian developed this PowerPoint presentation in 2003 for in-house staff training. Created by Rachael Perkins Arenstein and Veronica Quiquango, it gives an overview of the goals and methods for implementing an IPM program including exterior and interior building modifications, monitoring, identification, reporting and treatment.

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