In 1871, a fourth level Architecture course was offered in New York City that instructed on topics such as heating, ventilation and circulation of water. Notably, it asserted that the only way to successfully ventilate a building was to use fuel. Fast forward 150 years and we find that we are still battling this same concept, while simultaneously forcing our historic buildings to perform within modern energy limits. In the words of Greta Thunberg, a teenage environmentalist, “The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility. The bigger your carbon footprint the bigger your moral duty.” To further understand the impacts of building restoration on the environment a small research project was undertaken. Research took place using two buildings with cast iron facades. Dating from the 1870’s, each structure underwent complete restoration and renovations between 2016 and 2019. Both were gutted of all interior finishes, entire facades were removed and restored off site and new backup wall assemblies were constructed using modern materials. Comcheck, WUFI and THERM software was utilized to analyze the energy efficiency of the new wall systems installed. The results of these computational analyses were then compared to the energy efficiency of the historic wall systems—calculated using the same software, an 8% increase in efficiency was identified. More importantly, the overall expected life span of the modern materials, construction waste generated, and the amount of fossil fuels used during restoration were roughly calculated and graphed to get an overarching idea of how “green” the two projects were. The prevailing thought in the construction industry is that historic buildings function badly in terms of energy usage but that restoration and preservation are “green” processes. However, very rarely is data presented to support these claims and we can no longer afford to be myopic about our contribution to climate change. Measuring the environmental losses and gains of building restoration should be included in all conservation, restoration and renovation discussions. This presentation will explore using modern software tools to assess the environmental impact of restoration.
Attendee will see how modern software tools were used to assess the environmental impact of restoration
Attendee will be exposed to the limitations of modern software when accessing historic materials
Participant will be able to describe the general process of calculating restoration waste
Participant will have a greater understanding of the climate impacts of construction and material longevity