Walters Art Museum preserves historic artifacts with district energy





Baltimore, MD

Square footage


The customer

Located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon neighborhood, the Walters Art Museum was established in 1934 and has served as a valuable resource for the local and regional community and visitors ever since. The museum’s collection spans seven millennia, from 5,000 BCE to the 21st century, and encompasses 36,000 objects across a 5-building campus.

The Walters Art Museum aims to bring art and people together for enjoyment, discovery, and learning. The museum’s strategic plan outlines the Walters as a transformative force in the Baltimore region, with sustainability playing a big part in achieving this vision.

The challenge

Deteriorating infrastructure threatened the museum’s capacity to maintain the stringent humidity levels necessary to conserve its invaluable collections. With the prohibitive costs of modernizing and maintaining the current boiler system, the Walters was confronted with a critical decision: to replace one of its boilers or to connect to the district steam network.

The solution

Given district energy’s long history of providing reliable energy to buildings in Baltimore, the Walters Art Museum’s leadership team decided to partner with Vicinity to meet their essential heating and humidification needs. Vicinity helped replace the museum’s traditional boiler system and transitioned the remaining functional boilers to provide backup energy. Over this 20-year partnership, the Walters Art Museum receives approximately 12,000 pounds of clean steam per hour (pph).

“In order to preserve the historic artifacts housed in the Walters Art Museum, our buildings must meet precise humidification requirements. The reliability of district energy, in addition to its ability to meet the specifications of the museum’s exhibitions while also reducing our carbon footprint, makes Vicinity an excellent solution for Walters’s energy needs,” states Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director Julia Marciari-Alexander.

Achieving substantial cost savings

Rather than investing in a new boiler, Walters benefited from the minimal up-front capital costs associated with connecting to Vicinity’s district energy network. Immediately, the museum could reallocate these capital funds to support its exhibitions and other core business operations. In addition to this capital avoidance, the museum has seen reduced energy costs due to enhanced operational efficiency.

Driving reliability and resiliency through uninterrupted service

Reliability is paramount for the Walters Art Museum to continuously protect thousands of historic art objects with precise humidity control.  In contrast to the museum’s failing boilers, district energy provides 99.99% reliability. In the event of a power outage, extreme climate event, or supply interruption from the public grid, Vicinity can continue to provide uninterrupted energy operations due to its ability to black start and isolate issues. In addition, the museum can rely on Vicinity’s licensed and trained energy experts with experience responding to various emergencies.

This level of resilience is essential to Walters’ overall success, enabling seamless museum operations, constant protection of the museum’s collection, and positive experiences for visitors.

“Daily, we have noticed improved control over our environmental conditions. This is due to the reduced downtime we previously experienced with our aging boilers and related equipment,” states Senior Director of Building Operations Evander Toney.

Reducing environmental impact

As Walters Art Museum’s programs, exhibitions, and resources aim to strengthen and better the local community, leveraging a sustainable energy solution helps support this initiative. Vicinity leverages renewables to generate approximately 50% of the steam delivered to Baltimore customers and 100% carbon-free electricity via emission-free energy certificates (EFECs), enabling the museum to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the Walters Art Museum reduced over 4,000 dekatherm of natural gas in December 2023.

Even better, Vicinity enables Walters to switch to future carbon-free, renewable energy sources in the future. As Vicinity advances its net zero carbon plan across all its operations, customers like Walters will continue to receive greener energy solutions and make strides towards decarbonization.


lower carbon

Lower carbon footprint

99.99% reliability 

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Lifecycle and upfront cost savings