Bringing historic buildings into modern energy networks

Nick Myall
Wednesday 23 Dec 2015

In the ninth of our edition of BAU – Insider Focus features Nick Myall, World Architecture News’ Editor, looks at energy efficiency solutions for historic buildings and districts

Speaking at BAU 2015, Patrick Schumacher from Fraunhofer IBP, focussed on the energy demand of historic cities and ways to increase the energy supply while cutting demand. Smart storage systems, air-conditioning solutions and special windows can all combined to reach a solution.

Patrick Schumacher explained: “We looked at the energy demand of typical historic urban cities. The example we took was Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We wanted to know what was the solar and biomass potential of the city and also how we could reduce demand.”

Because Santiago de Compostela is a historic city it presented the team with a range of challenges relating to the buildings themselves and minimising visual impact. Placing solar panels on historic buildings and digging up roads to install pipework will always create debate.

Patrick Schumacher continued: “When there was too much energy in the grid we used the buildings themselves as smart storage solutions. We also developed new window systems to save energy and reduce visual impact. Five different prototypes were used, each had advantages and disadvantages.

“We adopted a building management system to control sensors that monitored key services in the building such as lighting and heating, this helped to control demand.”

At the conclusion of the project the team came up with a range of solutions and observations:

A geographic information system (GIS) helped to analyse demand and energy potential (solar, biomass, geothermal, etc.)

  • Solar solutions are possible but complex to adopt for historic buildings and districts 
  • Local legislation and policy on preservation of cultural heritage has a big influence 
  • Demand side management and energy storage in historic buildings and districts is a good way of reducing energy use
  • Different types of new glass and windows reduce heating and cooling energy demand and have less cultural impact
  • Finally, a mix of different solutions is necessary and will be driven by local conditions, e.g. climate, type of buildings, heritage level and energy potential.

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Nick Myall

News Editor

Key Facts:

Urban design

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