How High Performance Buildings Solutions Improve Efficiency and Reduce the Operating Costs of Historic Buildings
Historic buildings dot the skylines and line the streets of cities around the world. Each building has a unique story to tell, and the history of civilization is illustrated beautifully by this rich architectural timeline.
As owners and operators of historic buildings struggle with the challenges of rising energy costs and tighter operating budgets, how should they balance the need for improved building performance with historic preservation?
Trane provides high performance buildings solutions to operators of historic buildings across the globe, from ornate archeological treasures like the Prague Castle in the Czech Republic and the Kremlin in Moscow, to landmark buildings that scrape the sky like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
The High Performance Buildings approach to historic preservation protects these treasures and the irreplaceable artifacts within while improving building performance. Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort systems and a brand of Ingersoll Rand, works with historic building owners to reduce operating costs and ensure that historic buildings continue to achieve the underlying organizational mission and remain a viable alternative to new construction.
Whether safeguarding priceless art in the Guggenheim or keeping passengers comfortable in the historic Grand Central Station, the high performance buildings approach gives building operators the tools they need to preserve historic buildings for years to come.
The Intrinsic Value of Historic Buildings
When factoring in the incredible amount of energy and resources that went into initial construction of historic buildings, the act of preserving a building is itself a sustainable practice.
"Embodied energy" is the measurement of the total energy that goes into a product throughout its lifecycle. For a building, this measurement includes the energy costs associated with extracting raw building materials, the energy and human capital of building construction, and the energy costs of ownership and operation.
According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, the embodied energy of an existing building can be 39 percent of the total lifecycle energy costs for the building. In other words, by continuing to improve and reuse existing buildings, owners can leverage the 39 percent of embodied energy that already exists within the structure – energy that is lost when choosing new construction instead.
Historic Buildings Often have Inherently Sustainable Features
According to a post on The New York Times Green blog, in New York City, where the building sector is responsible for 75 percent of the city's greenhouse gas emissions, there is a public perception that older buildings don't cut it when it comes to efficiency.
But as the author of the post, Joanna M. Foster, points out, because they were built before relatively cheap electricity and modern mechanical systems were available, historic buildings were often designed with inherently sustainable features and systems, including natural lighting, ventilation and water cisterns. Improving building performance for these buildings is often more about improving the performance of existing elements, and less about renovations.
However, as buildings age, the original building systems can fall into disrepair and lose efficiency. In many cases, the original building systems can't keep up with the demands of the buildings modern day use, such as housing heat-producing office equipment and computer servers, or hosting high levels of foot traffic, etc.
In such cases, experts may need to replace original building systems with modern heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and controls to improve the comfort and indoor air quality of historic buildings.
Trane Solutions Help Historic Building Owners Manage Unintended Consequences
Building owners working to improve the efficiency of historic buildings should be aware of potential unintended consequences of improvement efforts. For instance, as new windows and extra insulation are added to an older structure, care must be taken to ensure that adequate ventilation exists and humidity levels are managed to avoid problems with mildew, mold and poor indoor air quality.
Trane works with building owners to ensure that new and old systems work together to maintain a comfortable and safe environment for building occupants without damaging the building. Experts from Trane also help building operators to analyze system performance and identify potential tradeoffs associated with energy conservation measures (ECM).
For more information about high performance buildings, visit: trane.com/highperformancebuildings
Example: Royal Castle, Warsaw Poland
High energy, operating and maintenance costs along with exceeding capacity for visitors and crowds of more than 1,500 people a day were just a few of the challenges facing the Royal Castle in Warsaw. To address these challenges, Trane was brought in to make improvements to the building and its comfort systems in order to save energy, be more environmentally responsible and preserve the priceless historical art within the building.
Improvements at the Royal Castle included a new chilled water plant and air conditioning system along with maintenance agreements to ensure ongoing performance. The improvements led to increased energy and operating efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, improved system reliability, increased capacity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, the new systems are enhancing the stability of the operating conditions of the Royal Castle and providing a more comfortable environment for visitors.
Example: The Historic Oxford Hotel, Denver
First opening its doors in 1891, the 80-room Oxford Hotel in Denver, Colo., needed improvements to replace its aging building systems. In addition to improving guest comfort, the hotel sought to better control temperature and humidity to provide the stable environmental conditions required to preserve the hotel’s extensive collection of 19th and 20th century paintings of the American West.
Located in the historic LoDo district (lower downtown) in Denver, the luxury boutique hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The infrastructure systems needed to be upgraded without compromising the hotel’s originality and charm while providing system redundancy and increasing energy efficiency.
Working with experts from Trane, improvements to the hotel were made as part of an extensive energy efficiency, conservation and sustainability program undertaken by Sage Hospitality Resources, which owns and operates The Oxford Hotel. The upgrades improved energy efficiency while decreasing average monthly utility costs by 47 percent. In addition, Sage Hospitality Resources also received a $34,000 rebate from its utility provider.
About Trane High Performance Buildings
Trane creates innovative high performance buildings using unique methodology that combines financial, operating and energy analysis with specialized service offers and available financing. High performance buildings are safe, comfortable and efficient. They meet specific standards for energy and water use, system reliability and uptime, environmental compliance, occupant comfort and safety, and other success factors. High performance buildings help owners and occupants be more productive and achieve their business missions by using design and operating standards that are created, measured and continually validated to deliver established outcomes within specified tolerances. For more information about high performance buildings, visit www.trane.com/highperformancebuildings.
About Ingersoll Rand
Ingersoll Rand (NYSE:IR) advances the quality of life by creating and sustaining safe, comfortable and efficient environments. Our people and our family of brands—including Club Car®, Ingersoll Rand®, Schlage®, Thermo King® and Trane® —work together to enhance the quality and comfort of air in homes and buildings, transport and protect food and perishables, secure homes and commercial properties, and increase industrial productivity and efficiency. Trane solutions optimize indoor environments with a broad portfolio of energy efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, building and contracting services, parts support and advanced control. Ingersoll Rand is a $14 billion global business committed to a world of sustainable progress and enduring results. For more information, visit ingersollrand.com or trane.com