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Region: Africa, Asia, Europe, The Americas

ASHRAE publishes new guideline for Historic Buildings

Aim of the document is to provide direction for increasing energy efficiency while minimising disturbance to the historic character of the buildings


Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 21 April 2019: ASHRAE has published a new guideline for increasing energy efficiency in historic buildings while minimising the disturbance of the building’s historic character and materials. ASHRAE Guideline 34-2019, ‘Energy Guideline for Historic Buildings’, provides comprehensive and detailed descriptions of the processes and procedures for the retrofitting of historic buildings to achieve greater measured efficiency, ASHRAE said through a Press communiqué. The guideline is particularly aimed at providing guidance for ‘listed’ historic buildings – that is those formally designated or eligible to be designated as historically significant by a governing body, the communiqué announced. 

Guideline 34, the communiqué said, provides a step-by-step procedure for sensitive energy upgrading, beginning with forming the project team and gathering building and energy use histories, to instituting energy-efficiency measures (EEM). Building envelope improvements, environmental control strategies, energy system analysis, HVAC selection and lighting design considerations are all addressed in the guideline. All recommendations are made in consideration of preserving the integrity of the historically valuable building character, materials and associated artifacts.

“The committee members writing this guideline are exceptionally knowledgeable about the special issues related to historic buildings and the care needed to preserve them,” said 2018-2019 ASHRAE President Sheila J. Hayter, P.E., who also served as chair of the international guideline committee. “The committee’s intent was to provide guidance for worldwide communities and specifically for entire project teams – not just engineers.”

Many historic buildings were constructed without insulation and designed without active air conditioning systems – especially for mechanical cooling. Retrofitting such buildings requires specialised techniques during construction and operation, as well as sensitivity to respecting and preserving historical significance. With nearly two-thirds of existing buildings estimated to still be in service by 2050, project teams retrofitting any historic building for energy efficiency can benefit from the content of the guideline.

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