Environmental Controls

The stacks use a sophisticated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system that is separate from the system used by the rest of the building. Conditions are monitored around the clock by equipment in the stacks and by computers at the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. Many measures are taken to address challenges to an ideal records storage environment.

Temperature and Humidity

The environment is maintained at a constant 65° Fahrenheit and 45% relative humidity. If the temperature fluctuates more than 5° Fahrenheit, an alarm sounds and technicians are dispatched to bring the system back to parameters. Controlling the temperature and humidity of the stacks is the most important way to prolong the life of records. High temperatures combined with high humidity can promote the growth of mold and mildew. Low humidity can dry paper and cause it to be brittle. Fluctuations of temperature from day to night or season can cause paper and recording media to expand and contract. Over years this degrades records.

Air Filtration

The HVAC system uses a micron air filtration system to remove dust particles and contaminants from the air before it's fed into the stacks. Dust particles can look like knives when viewed under a microscope. The particles, when multiplied by the millions, can be abrasive to paper and shorten the lifespan. Chemical contaminants that otherwise damage paper are also filtered.

Vermin and Insects

Food is prohibited in the Archives Building except for staff break rooms and the waiting and exhibit rooms by the reception desk. These strict controls make the stacks an unattractive environment for vermin and insects. Monitoring for evidence of infestations and screening of new records before bringing them into the stacks also contributes to clean storage areas.


Ultra violet rays and heat of sunlight encourage damaging chemical reactions in paper and ink. So the stacks have no windows. Fluorescent lights are used because they give off little ultra violet light and less heat than incandescent lights. Moreover, the light fixtures face up and away from the records. Wall, floor, and ceiling surfaces of the stacks are white to maximize the reflective qualities so less energy is used. Lights in the stacks are turned off except when retrieving records.


The Archives Building is protected from fire by several means. The stacks are constructed of reinforced concrete and the entry doors are designed to withstand fire from outside for long periods. Records are boxed and placed tightly on shelves to discourage the spread of fire. Finally, the stacks use a sophisticated fire suppression system. This "intelligent head dry pipe system" deploys sprinklers with small charges of water behind each head that are activated only where needed. No water is stored in the pipes but is brought in once a sprinkler head discharges. Each sprinkler head has a heat and smoke detector. Only sprinkler heads that detect heat or smoke will deploy, thus avoiding unnecessary water damage to records.


Water damage can come from something as small as a slow leaking pipe or as devastating as a flood. Well designed stack areas minimize the passage of water pipes in or near the area so the threat of leaks or breakages is reduced. The placement of the Archives Building above the likely flood zone minimizes the risk of catastrophic flood damage. A disaster preparedness plan is designed to further mitigate damage.
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​​​​​​​​Temperature and Humidity Control

A chart on a circular tumbler encased in glass and set on a wooden table. A temperature gauge is attached to the front.
This hygrothermograph located in the record storage areas charts the temperature and relative humidity 24 hours a day. Computers regulate conditions within close tolerances.

Light Control​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Ceiling of the storage area at the Archives shows the lights facing up, away from records.
Fluorescent light fixtures face upward away from the records and reflect off of the white painted ceilings to protect records from light exposure.

Fire Control​​​​​​​​

Close up of sprinkler head located in the Archives Building.
Water charged sprinkler heads are part of a sophisticated fire detection and suppression system designed to respond quickly and minimize water damage.