Vermont Business Magazine Bennington College and Bennington Museum are thrilled to be among the inaugural recipients of the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative. Launched by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute and Environment & Culture Partners, the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative advances the goal of carbon neutrality across the visual arts.
Bennington College’s $98,840 Implementation Award grant will be used to upgrade the lighting system in Bennington’s Helen Frankenthaler ’49 Visual Arts Center, one of the most important and prominent facilities on campus. This project will improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and result in substantial cost savings.
“Our goal for this project is to ensure that the Frankenthaler Visual Arts Center continues to serve as an inviting and inspiring collection of spaces for the creation and exhibition of art, while furthering the College’s commitment to sustainability,” said Andrew Schlatter, Vice President for Facilities Management and Planning at Bennington College. “Upgrading to modern LED lighting and efficiency controls will substantially increase energy efficiency and reduce costs, while simultaneously improving lighting quality, adjustability, and color rendering.”
This upgrade will replace all existing lighting and controls throughout the Frankenthaler Visual Arts Center, which houses the College’s collection of 1,200 works of art, while preserving or improving the aesthetics and color-rendering capabilities of the lighting itself. The new lighting system is estimated to save over 123,000 kWh annually, yielding an estimated annual savings of nearly $18,500 in electricity costs.
The nonprofit organization Efficiency Vermont, with whom Bennington College has partnered on a wide array of efficiency projects, has offered a generous incentive in support of this project and will be working in consultation with the College.
As a signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Bennington College is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, with the goal of achieving net carbon neutrality by the year 2030. To that end, the College is continuously targeting projects that optimize energy efficiency.
Bennington Museum’s $80,000 Implementation Award grant will address energy loss from the unsealed original windows in the historic St. Francis De Sales Catholic Church that comprises the north wing of the building. The 1855 native stone structure was acquired by the Museum in 1923 as the first permanent home for the Museum’s growing collections. Today, it houses the Regional History Room and an early Vermont gallery space.
Over the next two years, the Museum intends to explore and implement options for window improvements and insulation that will increase cost-savings and improve energy efficiency throughout the entire building. The window remediation project is the first step in creating an environmentally sound infrastructure through a comprehensive overhaul of the Museum’s inefficient climatization capabilities.
“This seed funding provides a much-needed springboard from which we can create a sustainable and green building that will serve residents and visitors to the Bennington community for decades to come,” says David Pilachowski, Interim Director of the Bennington Museum. “Reducing heat-loss from our windows will allow us to better care for our collections and will result in significant savings in the long run especially when coupled with future upgrades to the heating system. Moreover, it is important that the Museum takes part in addressing one of the most critical issues of our times: climate change.”
The use of new Solarban, Low-e, Argon-filled glass and sealing techniques applied to the historic windows is expected to result in a savings of up to 25% per year on an average annual $30,000 energy cost. It will also provide a 71% increase in climate stability as compared to current temperature fluctuations in the space. Bennington Museum has previously received funding from the Preservation Trust of Vermont to complete a full-scope window assessment in advance of the implementation phase of this project to determine the best method of remediation. Window upgrades in the historic church structure will be undertaken with appropriate aesthetic and historic preservation protocols in place.
About the Grant
The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s Frankenthaler Climate Initiative includes a total commitment of $10 million, $5.1 million of which has already been conferred to nearly 80 visual arts institutions across the United States.
The first program of its kind supporting energy efficiency and clean energy projects for the visual arts in the US, the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative was launched this past February as a $5-million, multi-year program. In response to the range, depth, and need of applications from the first call for proposals, the Foundation is conferring the full initial commitment in its inaugural cycle and dedicating additional $5 million to be awarded over the next two years.
The 79 grant recipients from the 2021 grantmaking cycle represent a broad cross-section of collecting institutions across more than 25 states. With annual operating budgets ranging in size from $1 million to nearly $500 million, applicants’ diversity demonstrated an expansive interest and need for this support across the field.
About the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative
The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative is the first nation-wide program to support energy efficiency and clean energy use for the visual arts and the largest private national grant-making program to address climate change action through cultural institutions. Its grants provide critical support to visual art museums in the United States seeking to assess their impact on the environment and to lower ongoing energy costs, which are among the highest fixed costs faced by museums. The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative builds on the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s commitment to social impact philanthropy, catalyzing change across critical issues in the arts.
The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative was launched and is managed in association with RMI, an independent nonprofit that engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs in accelerating the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future, and Environment & Culture Partners, nonprofits that creates relationships and leads collaborations that engage the cultural sector in broader climate action.
About the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation
Established and endowed by Helen Frankenthaler during her lifetime, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation advances the artist’s legacy and inspires a new generation of practitioners through a range of philanthropic, educational, and research initiatives. Since becoming active in 2013, the Foundation has continued to strategically expand its program, which includes organizing and supporting significant exhibitions of the artist’s work, fostering new research and publications, advancing educational programs in partnership with arts organizations around the world, and launching groundbreaking initiatives that foster systemic change in the field. As a primary resource on the artist, and a steward of her collection and archive, the Foundation holds an extensive selection of Frankenthaler’s work in a variety of mediums, her collection of works by other artists, and original papers and materials pertaining to her life and work.