Sustainability Concept

Architekturzentrum Wien

A child in a turquoise outfit sits with headphones in front of a wall, behind him large picture panels hanging from the ceiling.

Exhibition "Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet", 25.04.–09.09.2019
© Foto: eSeL

Construction work is currently responsible for a large share of the consumption of resources globally. This is the bad news. The good news is that resource-conserving architecture provides powerful leverage in the climate crisis. In its programme, the Architekturzentrum Wien engages deeply with the contribution that architecture can make to repairing the future and keeping the planet and its inhabitants alive.

Logo with many blue/green circles and red lettering
The Austrian Ecolabel

Issues of sustainability and the conservation of resources, alternative energy concepts, measures to mitigate climate change and for climate adaptation, or even questions about the economic use of space in architecture and urban planning are topics that we engage with in our exhibitions, research projects, symposiums, workshops, lectures, discussions, excursions in urban space, and even in the guided tours of our exhibitions.

In 2019, the Az W conceived the exhibition ‘Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet’, which applied the concept of Care to architecture and urbanism for the first time. It brought together 21 international case studies on environmental and social justice in the building sector and provided a systematic comparison of them. For the duration of the show, the inner courtyard of the Exhibition Hall was also planted with greenery to create a pleasant, cooling indoor climate inside the Hall on the one hand, and significantly improving the quality of stay in the courtyard on the other. This highly successful exhibition spent three years on tour in Europe.

The Az W exhibition ‘Land for Us All’ (2020-2023) showed the dramatic effects of the massive consumption of land on climate, food security and social cohesion, and communicated the prerequisites for a responsible use of land as a finite resource. This show also toured Austria for three years with 25 venues around the country, promoting discussion in smaller communities and presenting alternative approaches.

At a European level, for many years the Az W has been on the Advisory Board and on the jury for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture — Mies van der Rohe Award for Europe’s best buildings. In this capacity the Az W has contributed decisively to an increased focus on that most sustainable of architectural practises: adaptation and renovation.

The Architekturzentrum Wien takes advantage of every opportunity to open discussions and set signals. Since 2020, the Az W has been a member of #MuseumsForFuture as part of #FridaysForFuture, and since 2021 it has been part of the 17 Museums x 17 SDGs project launched by ICOM and the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport. Certification with the Austrian Ecolabel is another consistent step towards becoming a Green Museum and in-line with our commitment to sustainability.

In addition to the content-specific, awareness-raising orientation, the topics of energy, social and environmental sustainability, circular economy and the conservation of resources are also given high priority in our operation and in our everyday work as a museum. Following the specifications of the eco-certification by the Austrian Ecolabel and beyond, the Az W implements the criteria in the areas of management and communication, social sustainability, energy, water, waste, air/noise, office/printing, cleaning/chemicals/hygiene, building/construction and living/renovations/use of materials/equipment, food/kitchen, transport/mobility, outdoor/open spaces. Furthermore, the shop fulfils additional museum-specific requirements while also providing additional social and societal support.

Management and Communication
On applying for the Austrian Ecolabel, the Az W environmental officer and the management developed a comprehensive, individual programme of action to be evaluated and expanded every two years. This programme includes measures for energy, water, chemicals and waste management, renovation work and the associated use of materials, social factors and other areas involving sustainability, as well as a detailed concept for managing waste.

All employees have been informed in writing about the contents and sent relevant instructions regarding the above, and are required to implement these in their daily work. Appropriate productive suggestions from the Az W team as well as from visitors are requested and will be considered after having been assessed for feasibility.

Employees as well as visitors and guest speakers are to be informed about available environmentally favourable means of transport for travelling to and from the Az W.

All Az W printed matter (posters, programmes, flyers, invitation cards) meet the criteria for and are endorsed by the Austrian Ecolabel.
The consumption of electricity, heat and water is regularly recorded, as is the consumption of detergents, cleaning agents and other chemicals, which are mainly used in the in-house workshop, so that mitigating measures can be taken if necessary. All equipment is professionally serviced annually. Equipment with refrigerants and air-conditioning systems with fluorinated greenhouse gases are not used, as a matter of principle.

Social Sustainability/Staff Measures
Regular meetings are held between the directorate/management and Az W staff, and staff outings are organised regularly.

ICOM cards are available to staff members, allowing free admission to museums at partner institutions worldwide,

The design and furnishing of each workplace conforms to medical and ergonomic standards as well as allowing individual design freedom.

Mutually arranged employee working hours allow maximum flexibility.

Organic coffee and tea are freely available for all employees.

The leaseholders of the Architekturzentrum Wien cafeteria offer a discount on meals for Az W employees.

Each employee of the Az W receives free copies of in-house publications.

Diversity Management
The Architekturzentrum Wien would like to enable the socially disadvantaged and people with special needs to visit the museum. All exhibition spaces have barrier-free access and there are WCs for the disabled in the lecture hall and in the cafeteria.

Visitors with special needs receive a discount on the price of admission on presentation of appropriate ID. In addition, the Architekturzentrum Wien offers a range of events specifically for visitors with special needs. Admission to the exhibitions is free for Kulturpass-holders, the unemployed and refugees from Ukraine.
For students, admission to the exhibitions is free on Wednesdays from 17:00 to 19:00.
In addition, there is a specific range of events for visiting groups, such as single-parents, homosexual couples and families. Value has long been given to applying gender-sensitive language to all Az W channels of communication (website, printed matter, social media).
The Az W takes environmental communication and education earnestly in a variety of ways for its exhibition and event programme, as has been impressively demonstrated by the successful exhibitions ‘Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet’, ‘Land for Us All’, or ‘Yasmeen Lari. Architecture for the Future’ and their accompanying events.

We expect our suppliers to comply with environmental protection standards. Environmental certification and a regional focus play a key role in the awarding of contracts to companies. The majority of main suppliers and service providers commissioned have various environmental protection certificates. As far as possible, online shipping is avoided and purchases are made from local businesses.

The buildings housing the exhibition and office facilities of the Az W are listed monuments, managed by the MuseumsQuartier Errichtungs- und BetriebsgesmbH. 100% of the electricity from the national grid comes from renewable energy sources.

The Az W meets the minimum requirements for energy-saving lighting technology according to the Austrian Ecolabel for Tourism and the Leisure Industry guidelines. Installation of energy-saving lamps or LEDs is partially complete. In 2022, 40% of all lamps conform with at least the energy efficiency class A++.

The retrofitting and conversion to energy-saving lighting technology and illuminants (LED) was started in 2023 in two exhibition halls and is to be continued quickly in all premises of the Az W, including the halls of the Collection depot, as financial resources allow.

Another goal in terms of energy saving is a thermic upgrade to the halls of the Az W Collection depot, and to implement a more energy-efficient heating and cooling system using a heat pump and photovoltaic installation.

Of course, attention is paid to energy-efficient lighting and computer use. In the case of electronic devices — especially when purchasing new ones — energy efficiency certification (e.g. Energy Star) is a significant factor.

As a water-saving measure, all WCs in the Az W have manual flush-stop buttons or a 2-button system.

The Az W is connected to the municipal sewage system. Visitors and staff are advised to use water sparingly.

In accordance with the waste management concept developed by the Az W, facilities for separating waste are available throughout the building. Staff members are encouraged to separate or to avoid producing waste. Signs with written instructions are clearly posted. Hazardous waste is separated, collected and disposed of in an appropriate manner and in accordance with regulations.
Used exhibition materials, such as furniture, textiles, but also electronic devices from office operations etc. are subsequently put to good use wherever possible. It is important to the Architekturzentrum Wien that materials can be reused whenever possible after dismantling. To this end, the Az W works in particular with the VinziRast (gaupenraub), the Materialnomaden and the Baukarussell, so that materials from an exhibition can be put to further use. If necessary, the Az W uses specialised companies to dispose of any non-recyclable materials.

In some cases, the Az W buys used equipment through Stifter helfen. Used, still-functioning old computer and telephone equipment is sometimes taken for recycling by SOCIUS Austria. The annual volume of waste is constantly monitored and recorded.

Air / Noise
All Az W locations are non-smoking premises. Smoking is only permitted outdoors.

Office / Printing
The office paper used at the Az W as well as stationery and envelopes all bear an Ecolabel (Nautilus classic 80g, A4 + A3 / Blue Angel, EU Ecolabel) &/or consist of 100% recycled paper. The paper for external print jobs is endorsed by an Ecolabel (Munken Lynx, Claro Bulk [programme booklets] and Amber Graphic [printed matter]/Austrian Ecolabel) and is produced and labelled by certified printers (Druckerei Bösmüller Print Management GesmbH & Co KG/Austrian Ecolabel). Plastic cushion envelopes were replaced by paper cushion envelopes as one of the measures undertaken to obtain endorsement by the Austrian Ecolabel.

Cleaning / Chemicals / Hygiene
The storage, use, handling and disposal of chemicals is undertaken and managed appropriately. The use of potentially harmful products is minimised and only undertaken when less harmful products or processes are not available. Disinfectants are only used where necessary to meet legal hygiene requirements. In addition, dirt traps (doormats etc.) are provided in all main entrance areas of the facility. Neither chemical drain and pipe cleaners nor toilet bowl stones or urinal stones are used anywhere at the Az W. All hand-dishwashing detergents, machine dishwashing detergents and all-purpose cleaners used have an Ecolabel. Toilet paper and kitchen rolls are made of 100% recycled paper or are endorsed by the Austrian Ecolabel.

Buildings / Building and Living / Conversions / Use of Materials / Equipment
Exhibition spaces all have barrier-free access, and at least 60% of Az W office equipment meets the Energy Star criteria.

Any new construction or conversion work undertaken at the Az W has a focus on reuse as well as on low-tech and nature-based approaches, which means employing as little technology as possible and working as sustainably and efficiently as possible. These guidelines were implemented in 2022/23 for the adaptations of our exhibition spaces and shop premises in the MQ.

The same approach is behind the planned renovation and conversion of the Collection depot and research centre in Möllersdorf (Lower Austria) — employing thermal outer shells, retrofitting the halls and the conversion to a more efficient energy supply using heat pumps and photovoltaics.

Food / Kitchen / Events
Beverages (excl. wine and spirits) are predominantly purchased in returnable containers (kegs, containers, on tap, returnable bottles). Beverages in cans are not offered. Portion packs are dispensed with completely. Neither disposable paper tablecloths nor disposable decorations are used at the Az W.

At least two products are provided that have been certified as ethically, socially and environmentally sound (e.g. fair trade).

The Az W caters for its guests 2-4 times per year (Summer Party, New Year’s party, 2 Mini Conferences). We only hire caterers with an eco-label and only serve organic produce.

Traffic / Mobility
The Az W is centrally located in the MuseumsQuartier, and easily accessible on foot, by bike or via public transport. The following public transport services have stops in the immediate vicinity of our museum:
Metro (U-Bahn): U2 MuseumsQuartier & U2/U3 Volkstheater
Tram: 49, Volkstheater
Bus: 48A ,Volkstheater & City Bus 2B, MuseumsQuartier
Multiple bicycle stands are available in front of the MQ as well as in the Architekturzentrum Wien courtyard.
The depot for the Az W Collection is located within walking distance of Traiskirchen train station, which makes it easily accessible for both staff and researchers.

Outdoor Area / Open Spaces
The planting of the outdoor areas (trees, shrubs, hedges) has been undertaken exclusively with indigenous plants and without the use of pesticides. In 2019, the Az W conceived the exhibition ‘Critical Care. Architecture for a Broken Planet’, applying the concept of care to architecture and urbanism for the first time. In the course of this show, the inner courtyard of the Exhibition Hall was greened to create a pleasant, cooling indoor climate within and for the adjacent venue. A noticeable reduction of the room temperature indoors was achieved by means of natural cooling at night.

Museum-specific Requirements
The Az W Educational Programme and educational events promote the exploration of sustainable development with didactic means (e.g., for exhibitions like ‘Critical Care’ or ‘Soil for Us All’).

Third parties commissioned to work for the Az W must be professionally trained and qualified conservators. Qualifications are checked.

Components/materials/furniture to be stored are properly maintained in order to ensure the longest possible useful life (long-term -> Möllersdorf depot, short-term -> workshop). In addition, temporary buildings or structures (for exhibitions) are reused or disassembled as far as possible and/or separated according to materials and recycled/disposed of in accordance with the legal guidelines.

Recycled materials are frequently used and existing materials are reused whenever possible. Some exhibition equipment and materials are subsequently donated to social enterprises.

The use of disposable foils and plastics is kept to a minimum. Reusable packaging is favoured for the Collection stock and for exhibition displays.
The Architekturzentrum Wien has been awarded the Austrian Museum Quality Seal.

The Shop
Az W publications comprise the main stock. These are academic and scientific works on architecture and cultural heritage. Only products without unnecessary embellishments and that do not require batteries (disposable or rechargeable) to operate are stocked.

The Az W Shop and cash desk area are staffed exclusively by well-informed Az W employees.

Join us, become proactive by helping us to make our museum even more green. We look forward to your suggestions and feedback at:

More information about the Austrian Eco-label