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Standardizing the indoor climate in historic buildings: opportunities, challenges and ways forward

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Abstract

Standardization for indoor climate control in historic buildings has recently taken a new direction with standards and guidelines that focus more on decision processes than outcomes. The objective of the paper is to explore and discuss how standards can evolve to both fit and guide decision processes to facilitate a sustainable management of historic buildings. Interviews with engineers and heritage professionals in the Church of Sweden in combination with indoor climate monitoring were used to understand the technical and organizational context. The results show that the development of process standards solves some of the problems related to the conventional outcome-oriented approach by opening up for a wider set of solutions. However, available guidelines are difficult to apply and integrate in the existing management of churches. A stronger focus on strategic feedback and an increased use of local guidelines are suggested.

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... Practitioners often have expectations of simple and general guidance even though the problems tend to be complex. During the last years, guidelines and standards in the conservation field have moved away from universal recommendations to process oriented standards which aim to support the decision process in each individual case (Leijonhufvud and Broström, 2018). EN 16883:2017 is an example of a procedural standard. ...
... Such procedural guidelines are promising as they are more flexible and allow for individual variation in the end results. However their application might place higher demands on the end user in terms of resources and competence (Leijonhufvud and Broström, 2018). ...
... Generally, little attention is given to if and how standards and guidelines actually are used in practice (Leijonhufvud and Broström, 2018). It is a remarkably under-researched area given the resources and efforts put into the production of standards. ...
... Practitioners often have expectations of simple and general guidance even though the problems tend to be complex. During the last years, guidelines and standards in the conservation field have moved away from universal recommendations to process oriented standards which aim to support the decision process in each individual case [3]. EN 16883:2017 is an example of a procedural standard. ...
... Such procedural guidelines are promising as they are more flexible and allow for individual variation in the end results. However their application might place higher demands on the end user in terms of resources and competence [3,4]. Generally, little attention is given to if and how standards and guidelines [3]. ...
... However their application might place higher demands on the end user in terms of resources and competence [3,4]. Generally, little attention is given to if and how standards and guidelines [3]. It is an under-researched area given the efforts put into the production of standards. ...
... Research on the topic in the last 20 years has enabled international bodies such as the EU's Technical Committee CEN/CT 346 (Conservation of the Cultural Heritage) to formulate and publish (2010-2016) a series of standards and recommendations. These address the most suitable modern heating systems (EN 15759-1 [33]), the conversion of older systems (EN 15757, EN 15759-1 [8,33]) and indoor microclimatic control through constant monitoring of the environmental parameters crucial to conservation (relative humidity, temperature and CO 2 ) (EN 13779, EN 15757, EN 15758, EN 16242 [8][9][10][11][12][13]27,[34][35][36]). Whilst historic churches (built before the nineteenth century), protected by provisions that prohibit architectural or constructional change, are presently exempt from mandatory compliance with the existing legislation (EN 15251 [37]) on energy efficiency [28,36,38,39], new guidelines (ASHRAE 34 P [40]) are proposing solutions to guarantee heritage conservation while improving energy-efficient thermal comfort in these historic buildings [28][29][30][31][32]. ...
... These address the most suitable modern heating systems (EN 15759-1 [33]), the conversion of older systems (EN 15757, EN 15759-1 [8,33]) and indoor microclimatic control through constant monitoring of the environmental parameters crucial to conservation (relative humidity, temperature and CO 2 ) (EN 13779, EN 15757, EN 15758, EN 16242 [8][9][10][11][12][13]27,[34][35][36]). Whilst historic churches (built before the nineteenth century), protected by provisions that prohibit architectural or constructional change, are presently exempt from mandatory compliance with the existing legislation (EN 15251 [37]) on energy efficiency [28,36,38,39], new guidelines (ASHRAE 34 P [40]) are proposing solutions to guarantee heritage conservation while improving energy-efficient thermal comfort in these historic buildings [28][29][30][31][32]. Where conflicts arise, heritage conservation always prevails over human comfort and energy efficiency [5,8,33]. ...
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Conservation of historic churches’ interior artistic and architectural heritage may be severely compromised by heating systems that alter indoor microclimatic stability. The modern centralised heating systems installed over the last 20 years, are claimed to guarantee comfort without jeopardising heritage assets by warming only the lower, occupied areas. Each building is a case unto itself, however, and even in recently installed facilities where it may still be too soon to determine possible harm to the cultural heritage, a plan to monitor the microclimate and its heating-induced fluctuations must be designed to guarantee the conservation of artworks. In this case study, the impact of heating was observed to vary due to architectural differences within the building, the type of facility and daily usage patterns. Within 1 h, the church's latest generation heating system raises the air temperature in nearly the entire building, including the upper heights, to the programmed 18 ± 1 °C, while lowering the environmental relative humidity by up to 1/3. Although (Category II and III) thermal comfort is reached in 1 h, daily heating of that duration is not recommended, for it would result in short-term relative humidity values below the target relative humidity range for preventive conservation of the church's indoor heritage. The mechanical damage (fissures and cracking) that may be inflicted on these assets is related to thermal contraction-expansion and hygroscopic contraction-swelling cycles.
... Environmental appraisal instruments or rating frameworks cannot overlook legacy structures. Besides, for example, benchmarks and rules, confirmation frameworks, contracts, and models are significant instruments for quality affirmation in cultural heritage management [19,66]. Key environmental sustainability measures that can be considered in the adjustment of heritage buildings are equivalent to those applicable to non-legacy stock. ...
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Heritage buildings provide a remarkable value for both the culture and the region where they are located; hence, there is a necessity for them to be conserved. Sustaining heritage buildings for future generations serves cultural sustainability and can be achieved through adaptive reuse with appropriate functions as an efficient conservation approach. Moreover, harnessing the embedded energy from adaptive reuse and the improvement of environmental performance in heritage buildings plays a significant role in ecological sustainability. The aim of the study was to investigate environmental rating systems (ERS) as ecological sustainability evaluation tools and to find out mutual aspects with adaptive reuse models (ARM), thus, serving cultural sustainability.
... Today, the available information on the indoor climate of historical buildings operating as museums is commonly fragmentary since some buildings are not adequately monitored or the data are not published or available [19,21,26,40,[45][46][47][48][49]: in this scenario, the analysis of their microclimate is hindered, and the comparisons analysis among different buildings is impossible. ...
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... The recent Italian guidelines (MIBAC, 2015), as well as the new ASHRAE (2019) guideline, are also recent examples that outline a systematic decision process for the planning phase. Despite the amount of resources and efforts spent on standardisation in recent years within the cultural heritage field, little attention has been paid to if and how standards actually are used in practice (Leijonhufvud and Broström, 2018). It is therefore the intention of Task 59 to evaluate recent innovative standards in the field, in order to overcome the barriers identified in the introduction regarding a lack of support and guidance in a complex design process. ...
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Purpose Improving the energy performance of historic buildings has the potential to reduce carbon emissions while protecting built heritage through its continued use. However, implementing energy retrofits in these buildings faces social, economic, and technical barriers. The purpose of this conceptual paper is to present the approach of IEA-SHC Task 59 to address some of these barriers. Design/methodology/approach Task 59 aims to achieve the lowest possible energy demand for historic buildings. This paper proposes a definition for this concept and identifies three key socio-technical barriers to achieving this goal: the decision-makers’ lack of engagement in the renovation of historic buildings, a lack of support during the design process and limited access to proven retrofit solutions. Two methods – dissemination of best-practice and guidelines – are discussed in this paper as critical approaches for addressing the first two barriers. Findings An assessment of existing databases indicates a lack of best-practice examples focused specifically on historic buildings and the need for tailored information describing these case studies. Similarly, an initial evaluation of guidelines highlighted the need for process-oriented guidance and its evaluation in practice. Originality/value This paper provides a novel definition of lowest possible energy demand for historic buildings that is broadly applicable in both practice and research. Both best-practices and guidelines are intended to be widely disseminated throughout the field.
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