Track 2: DESIGN - PLANNING THE CONSERVATION OF HISTORIC PLACES / Volet 2 : Conception - Planifier la conservation de lieux historiques

Historic Buildings as Energy Hogs- Debunking the Myth

Friday, October 13
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

While many historic properties are valued and conserved based on their heritage value, the vast majority of existing, historic buildings must be financially competitive with new construction if they are to survive. A frequent argument against the reuse of a historic property is the poor performance of the building with regard to energy consumption. A “pro-forma” analysis of the reuse of the property will trend towards the negative based on the long-term cost of operating the building. A frequent counter argument is to rebalance the equation by calculating the “embodied energy” and the “embodied carbon” of the materials and construction. While this information can be compelling to some, it will not necessarily change the analysis when the formula is focused on first-cost and operating expenses.
Driven by the economics of a larger market share advances in building materials and technologies are focused on new construction. If products are useable in existing buildings that may be an added bonus, but it has rarely been the primary driver in product development. As the market share of building reuse has increased, and as material and systems technology has become more sophisticated, the performance gap has been reduced.
In the era of “big data” we are also in a position to better analyze design options, track performance and compare a much larger database of information to compare and evaluate the relative performance of buildings based on construction type and age. This presentation will review some of the tools that are being used, both open platform and proprietary, how they are influencing design decisions on historic properties and illustrate how data has neutralized the “energy-hog” myth.
Two projects on very different building types will be used as case studies. The Birch Bayh Federal Building and US Courthouse in Indianapolis was constructed in 1905 with an addition in 1938. Managed by the US General Services Administration the building had a high performance rating even though the building systems were at the end of their useful life. A comprehensive upgrade of the building systems completed in 2014 has pushed the energy performance of the building even further and it is now one of the best performing GSA buildings in the region.
The Richards Medical Research Laboratories at the University of Pennsylvania, opened in 1962, is a seminal work of architect Louis Kahn and one of the most important designs of the 20th century. The first phase of a comprehensive renovation, completed in 2015, sensitively upgraded both the exterior envelope and the building systems radically improving the energy performance. As the project financing was based on energy savings, documenting actual performance is critical.

Learning Objectives:

Matthew S. Chalifoux

EYP Architecture & Engineering

Matthew Chalifoux, FAIA, is a Principal at EYP Architecture & Engineering. Mr. Chalifoux has over 30 years of experience in the renovation, restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings. His projects have included the U.S. Supreme Court Building, the United Nations Headquarters, and the Richards Medical Research Building. While his projects have varied in scale they have all included the sensitive insertion of new technology and systems to provide appropriate levels of climate control, life safety and security while also being environmentally sensitive and sustainable. His projects have received local, state and national awards for design, historic preservation, construction and sustainability.


Send Email for Matthew Chalifoux

Send Email for Julia Manglitz


Historic Buildings as Energy Hogs- Debunking the Myth

Attendees who have favorited this

Please enter your access key

The asset you are trying to access is locked. Please enter your access key to unlock.

Send Email for Historic Buildings as Energy Hogs- Debunking the Myth