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

Evaluating inherent energy efficient features in historic buildings

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

Existing guidance on historic preservation and energy conservation recommends evaluating a building’s “inherent energy efficient features” (IEEFs) before planning or implementing any retrofits. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings advises that “prior to retrofitting historic buildings to make them more energy efficient, the first step should always be to identify and evaluate existing historic features to assess their inherent energy-conserving potential.” Related guidance, such as the U.S. National Parks Service’s Preservation Brief 3: Improving Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings, echoes this advice. However, this guidance is primarily qualitative; current guidance lists potential IEEFs – e.g., shutters, storm windows, uninsulated mass walls, operable windows – but does not provide a quantitative procedure for evaluating them. This is a major limitation, given that retrofit decisions are often made on the basis of quantitative metrics, such as estimated energy savings and economic payback.

This presentation discusses a recently developed method for quantifying IEEFs in historic buildings. This method was developed through partial support from a Preservation Technology and Training Grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. The new method combines building energy simulation with regionalized sensitivity analysis and machine learning techniques to determine which features – or combinations of features – in a building result in energy-efficient designs. The presentation provides an overview of the method, and then a demonstration using a case study historic building on the Penn State University campus. In the case study, 13 energy retrofit measures are evaluated; these include several potential IEEFs – such as natural ventilation via operable windows, thermally massive walls, and shading from surrounding landscape – as well as other common energy retrofits – such as reduced infiltration via air sealing, and attic insulation. The results of the study suggest that the IEEFs have minimal influence on reducing annual energy consumption. While these specific conclusions are limited to this case study building, this new method could be applied to aid retrofit decision-making in any historic building; by identifying the tradeoffs between various retrofit measures, this method helps the design team find an appropriate balance between energy efficiency and conservation goals. Overall, this study suggests that the IEEF concept may need to be revised in order to make a better argument for preserving these features, and this presentation concludes with a discussion of these broader implications.

Learning Objectives:

Amanda L. Webb

The Pennsylvania State University

Amanda Webb is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management at the University of Cincinnati, where her research focuses on energy efficiency in historic buildings. She is a currently a committee member of ASHRAE's Guideline 34, "Energy Guideline for in Historic Buildings", and a U.S. Task Expert for the International Energy Agency's Annex 76, "Deep retrofit of historic buildings". She holds a PhD in Architectural Engineering from Penn State, a master's degree from MIT and a bachelor's degree from Yale University.


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