ASHRAE’s new guide shows how to boost your historic building’s energy efficiency while preserving its integrity

by Brianna Crandall — May 1, 2019 — Global sustainable building technology society ASHRAE has published a new guideline for increasing energy efficiency in historic buildings while minimizing the disturbance of the building’s historic character and significantly historic characteristics 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. The guideline is particularly aimed at providing guidance for “listed” historic buildings; i.e., those formally designated or eligible to be designated as historically significant by a governing body.

Guideline 34 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 (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) 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.

2018-2019 ASHRAE President Sheila J. Hayter, P.E., who also served as chair of the international guideline committee, stated:

The committee members writing this guideline are exceptionally knowledgeable about the special issues related to historic buildings and the care needed to preserve them. 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, notes ASHRAE. Retrofitting such buildings requires specialized 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.

The cost of ASHRAE Guideline 34-2019, Energy Guideline for Historic Buildings, is $53 for ASHRAE members ($62, non-members) for immediate download or a printed edition. To order, visit the ASHRAE Bookstore or contact the ASHRAE Customer Contact Center at 1-800-527-4723 (US and Canada) or 404-636-8400 (worldwide).