Historic Building Energy Efficiency Guide
Making Your Historic Building Energy Efficient
The technology for enhancing the energy efficiency of historic buildings is improving all the time. Acting now will extend their useful lives and reap benefits for both present and future users.
This information is available in a brochure format.
Climate Action Plan & Historic Preservation
Historically landmarked buildings and properties in Boulder's historic districts are irreplaceable reminders of the city's past. As energy costs rise and fossil fuel reserves dwindle, improving the energy efficiency of historic buildings is more important than ever.
In 2006, City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan to meet the Kyoto Protocol goals of substantially lower emissions of greenhouse gases. It is the city's aim to create compatibility between historic preservation and energy efficiency goals. One such goal is to make a building's environmental footprint smaller.
Most existing buildings, including those in historic districts, can benefit from energy efficiency improvements. Well planned and implemented, these improvements can:
These benefits can be achieved while preserving historic authenticity and integrity.
Energy Audits of Historic Buildings
To find out what energy efficient measures make sense for your building, it is recommended you have an instrumented energy audit done by a professional energy auditor, then undertake a combination of do-it-yourself work and work contracted by appropriate building professionals.
A Systematic Approach to a Building's Performance
To analyze options for improving a building's energy performance, an energy auditor views its energy systems and its occupants as interrelated parts of an organic whole. Changes in one part can affect many of the others.
For example, a combination of air sealing, adding attic and wall insulation and adjusting equipment controls can often cure the problems of poor heat distribution and lower bills at the same time. Or if a new furnace or cooling system is really needed, a smaller, more efficient unit along with a tighter "thermal envelope" (the insulated shell of a building) and well-sealed ducts may be the best strategy.
The energy auditor uses a number of instruments to evaluate the function, efficiency and interactions of the energy systems in a building. Watt hour meters monitor refrigerator and freezer performance. Manometers, combustion analyzers and gas leak detectors help in assessing heating, cooling, ventilating and hot water systems for appropriate control settings, efficiency and safety. A calibrated, variable speed fan is temporarily mounted in a doorway and used to measure the relative tightness of the building and identify most sources of leaks. An infrared sensor helps to find insulation voids.
The energy auditor usually finds a number of opportunities to save energy without spending much money or time.
Recommendations for lower cost and possible do-it-yourself work items include:
Hiring Building Professionals
Recommendations for higher cost items are usually more complicated and may require the skills of building professionals:
Review Process & Incentives
Steps to make historically-designated buildings more energy efficient that require exterior changes (including windows and doors) require a Landmark Alteration Certificate (LAC). If you are unsure if your property is designated or want to learn more about the LAC process, please contact the city's historic preservation planning program by calling (303) 441-3274.
Interior work does not require a LAC, but extensive rehabilitation work may require a building permit that could fall under the city's Green Points Program depending on the extent of the work. For building permit information visit the Planning & Development Services Online Center or call (303) 441-1880.
Energy efficiency upgrades to designated historic properties are eligible for 20% State and, in some cases, 20% Federal tax credits.
Renewable energy system installations on the exterior of buildings must be reviewed through the LAC process. Rebate information on solar thermal and solar electric systems is available on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) website.
To Learn More...
This information is only an introduction to this important topic. For more information on contractors who rehabilitate historic buildings, visit Historic Boulder's website or call (303) 444-5192.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 13:38