Bringing efficiency to historic buildings

49166692_sUSA: ASHRAE has proposed new guidelines to bring energy efficiency to historic buildings.

Advice for energy efficiency and energy conservation improvements involving historic structures can be found in Guideline 34P, Energy Guideline for Historical Buildings. ASHRAE says these improvements would seek to minimise disturbances to the historic character, characteristics and materials.

“Many codes and standards exempt such buildings from energy conservation requirements, based on an assumption that imposition of energy-saving measures may compete with preservation requirements,” said William Rose, a member of the Guideline 34P committee. “Nevertheless, preservationists generally wish to balance the mandate to maintain the integrity and authenticity of their buildings with growing needs for energy conservation. And some codes, notably the recent International Energy Conservation Code, have moved from a blanket exemption to a narrower provision-by-provision basis.”

Guideline 34P is designed to help those engaged in preservation to design and provide energy conservation measures. Rose said it also will help those engaged in energy conservation to propose and adopt measures consistent with preservation practice. The guideline addresses planning and operation, mechanical systems, building envelopes and lighting.

The guideline was the idea of presidential member Tom Watson for whom historical buildings are a pet project. “We just can’t give up on using historic buildings,” he said. “They are too valuable and leave too large an environmental footprint to be neglected or abandoned.”

The proposed standard is open for a second public comment until May 2, 2016. To comment or learn more, visit

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