In 1998, the American Museum of Natural History initiated a formal review of the sustainability of its operational practices and convened a cross-departmental Sustainability Practices Committee to research opportunities to increase awareness about sustainability practices at the Museum and to make recommendations for and, where appropriate, implement changes that add or improve upon environmentally sound practices at the Museum. Through collaboration with government agencies, funders, and others, the Museum has helped adapt its magnificent facility which, in some cases, is more than a century old, to a more sustainable state. Much progress has been made to reduce the Museum's environmental impact, and, as new research and "green" technology advances, there will be future opportunities as well. As an institution committed to science and education, including about the environment, the Museum has an important role in helping to encourage and educate its staff, visitors, and others about how to improve their own sustainability practices.
The guiding principles of the Museum's sustainability efforts are:
- Manage the Museum's operations and facilities in a manner that reduces the Museum's negative impact on the environment.
- Encourage environmentally responsible practices in projects that call for the design, renovation, and/or restoration of the Museum's facilities.
- Develop opportunities for the Museum to inform and encourage its staff and visitors about sustainable practices and the Museum's efforts to lessen its own impact.
- As appropriate, collaborate with external entities such as governments, businesses, citizens groups, schools, and peer institutions to advance awareness of environmental issues and the impact of personal and industrial behavior.
- Continue to monitor the sustainability of the Museum's operations: by assessing the impact of existing and newly initiated practices; by establishing and evaluating sustainability goals; and by looking for new opportunities to improve the Museum's "green" practices.