Last edited 28 Jan 2018

Energy Efficiency and Comfort of Historic Buildings

Energy Efficiency and Comfort of Historic Buildings, edited by Michael de Bouw, Samuel Dubois, Liesbeth Dekeyser and Yves Vannellemont, Belgian Building Research Institute, Flanders Heritage Agency, 2016, 342 pages, free access online.

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In October 2016 the Belgian Building Research Institute organised the second International Conference on Energy Efficiency and Comfort of Historic Buildings (EECHB 2016), which took place in Brussels.

The conference was aimed at bringing together a group of international experts to facilitate knowledge exchange between the practitioners, governmental representatives and researchers. The conference was designed to consolidate research related to the following themes: boundaries and obstacles; using and improving energy models; training and education; interventions related to (a) systems and indoor climate, and (b) materials; monitoring and feedback; and governance issues. It discussed state-of-the-art energy efficiency developments and provided an opportunity to reflect on research results and practical issues. To disseminate conference findings, the peer-reviewed papers of the conference’s proceedings have been made available online to the public.

The lengthy publication presents a compendium of knowledge for anyone seeking information about methods for improving energy efficiency of historic properties. It presents views, ideas and solutions for climate-sensitive heritage building adaptation that meets modern standards of energy efficiency while accommodating the needs of the building users. It highlights best practice methodologies for application and knowledge transfer. It features industry experts from across the globe, and presents case studies that we can all learn something from.

Among its range of case studies, it discusses post-war buildings in Edinburgh, traditional English terraced houses, private residencies, public buildings and Unesco protected sites, and it looks at wider city systems. Some papers present technical solutions, while others consider how to incorporate these solutions through well-informed and appropriate governance and planning.

Retrofitting buildings will continue to be at the forefront of government efforts to reduce emissions. This publication presents a rare opportunity to look at a variety of options available to buildings that respect and account for the historic value and unique characteristics of the traditional built environment. Regardless of the profession, anyone interested in improving energy efficiency of historic properties should be encouraged to read through these proceedings for a comprehensive selection of high-quality research


This article originally appeared in IHBC’s Context 150, published in July 2017. It was written by Pat Graczyk, sustainability officer, Edinburgh World Heritage.

--Institute of Historic Building Conservation

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