Museum-quality efficiency upgrades

Isabella Stewart Gardner was famously precise in her vision and oversight of her museum’s creation. GreenerU is helping this masterpiece of an institution in meeting its sustainability goals—both in working toward climate neutrality and in operating the museum in perpetuity.


If you haven’t yet visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood, you are in for a treat. The architecture, designed in the style of a 15th-century Venetian palace by Gardner herself, is the backdrop of an exquisite series of gardens and gallery spaces filled with an eclectic and diverse collection of artwork from the world over. No detail was too small for Gardner.

You could say that were she still alive today, GreenerU would have been a perfect partner for Gardner. When the ISGM reached out to us for help with custom energy conservation measures, with stringent aesthetic requirements and minimal disruptions to sensitive spaces, we said “we got this.” Our clients have long appreciated our approach: we work closely with them, listen, and present solutions that meet the high standards of the institutions with which we work.

Our work at ISGM

Following the 2012 completion of the museum’s 70,000-square-foot expansion, designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, additional measures were identified to help monitor the buildings’ overall efficiency and detect operational anomalies. GreenerU deployed SkySpark technology, a type of software that can detect errors in building functionality. From that, we were able to identify opportunities for further improving the controls operations, as well as some other potential energy savings projects.

Next, ISGM enlisted GreenerU to design and install several LED lighting upgrades in both the 1902 palace (Fenway Court) and the 2012 expansion. This included:

  • Energy-efficient LED lighting retrofits in administrative spaces, which required sourcing a lighting product that met the aesthetic needs of the space. We were able to achieve this through thorough research and regular communication with Museum staff to ensure that the right product was installed with minimal disruptions to staff at work.
  • Retrofits and replacements to iGuzzini pendant fixtures, a specialty Italian product designed by the Museum’s architect.
  • Retrofits to exterior exhibition banner lighting.

Following this, GreenerU engineers will be performing retrocommissioning on the ISGM’s new space, a functionally more complex and energy-intensive space than the palace. This effort is effectively an equipment tune-up to ensure that the building’s energy is operating at its most efficient.

In all, estimated savings from these projects will reduce energy consumption by approximately 8–10% for both electric and thermal energy. GreenerU also sought out utility incentives, which saved the Museum nearly $17,000 in lighting expenses.

Sustainability and resilience, in perpetuity

Isabella Stewart Gardner’s will called for her art collection to be exhibited “for the education and enjoyment of the public forever.” Through the ISGM’s participation with Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission climate action planning process and in preparation for meeting the City of Boston’s climate neutrality goal of 2050, the Museum perfectly articulated the connection between climate action and protecting priceless works of art from the threat of climate change:

To model a more resilient, sustainable, equitable future to uphold the commitment of Isabella Stewart Gardner to protect and preserve the Collection for the education and enjoyment of the public forever.

In partnering with GreenerU, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is taking smart steps to ensure that this beautiful space, its irreplaceable art collection, and the public who enjoy it can rest assured of its existence in perpetuity.


Could your museum need velvet-glove energy-efficiency treatment? We would love to help!

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