Email: info@ad-houses.com14 July, 2024

Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings


The principles of this framework have already been the focus of several EU projects that are dealing with energy efficiency in heritage buildings. The completed project 3ENCULT, an EU Seventh Framework programme project, formulated the paradigm that to survive historic buildings have to be lived in and maintained. In fact, energy-efficient retrofit can also be useful for structural protection as well as for comfort reasons, comfort for users and ‘comfort’ for heritage collections. The main project objectives were to develop passive and active solutions for conservation and energy-efficient retrofit via long term monitoring (also for IEQ controlling), and to plan and evaluate tools and concepts supporting the implementation, quality assurance and control of success of the energy retrofit measures. One of their main exploitable results is a set of guidelines that holistically summarise the principles for the energy retrofitting of historic buildings, from the first diagnosis to the adequately designed intervention with respect to preservation of the historic structure, user comfort, and energy efficiency. The content was developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers and the wide range of expertise, of design examples, of calculations, and of measuring results from eight case studies has made this manual an indispensable tool for all architects, engineers, and energy consultants.

Historic buildings have the potential to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency due to its passive characteristics. However, installing internal insulation can be a difficult task subject to the risk of failure and high costs. Building owners and practitioners in the construction industry need greater knowledge and guidelines on how to handle internal thermal insulation in historic buildings effectively and securely. The H2020 RIBuild project has set out to fill this gap and aims at developing know-how about correctly installing internal thermal insulation in historic buildings while maintaining the architectural and cultural heritage, and at the same time contributing to meeting the EU 2020 climate and energy targets. This is performed by investigating how and under what conditions internal thermal insulation can be employed without posing a risk to the façade due to thermal stress. Research activities include on-site case studies as well as simulations and laboratory measurements of materials. The RIBuild project will result in comprehensive guidelines on how to install internal thermal insulation in historic buildings, and such guidelines are aimed at practitioners, authorities, building owners, consulting engineers, contractors and other professional practitioners within the building sector in the EU.

The IEA-SHC Task 59 is a new collaborative research project of the International Energy Agency (IEA) with a focus on the preservation of the built heritage. Within the Solar Heating and Cooling programme (SHC), 25 organisations (including public and private research institutions, heritage authorities, public administration, and industry) from 13 countries have joined forces in IEA-SHC Task 59 – Deep renovation of historic buildings towards lowest possible energy demand and CO2 emission. The aim of Task 59 is to support historic building decision-makers (i.e. owners, managers, practitioners and public sector) by sharing the existing research work, knowledge and new findings from all involved partners in a highly interdisciplinary collaboration. The topics covered in Task 59 range from exemplary building renovations and conservation compatible retrofit solutions to the multidisciplinary design process. One of the main outputs of Task 59 will be the development of a Historic Building Atlas as an online database for best practice examples of energy refurbishments of historic buildings developed in close collaboration with the European Interreg Alpine Space project ATLAS, co-funded by the European Union.

The ATLAS Project (Advanced Tools for Low-carbon, high-value development of historic architecture in the Alpine Space) aims at (re-)discovering and raising the value of traditional alpine architecture (buildings and ensembles beyond the level of protection). These buildings are often located in deprived areas. The project will pave the way for the sustainable development of historic structures while respecting their cultural significance. This will include capitalizing and optimizing existing best practice solutions for building refurbishment. Moreover, ATLAS will carry out methodologies to support alpine municipalities in sustainable development strategies. A tailored knowledge transfer will allow for sharing of practical experience of best practice examples, from construction detail to regional planning.