Special Issue "Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Vincenzo Costanzo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture (DICAR), University of Catania, Via Santa Sofia 64, 95125 Catania, Italy
Interests: sustainable buildings; building performance evaluation; passive design; thermal comfort; energy efficiency; daylighting; urban heat islands and mitigation strategies
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Eva Schito
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Energy, Systems, Territory and Constructions Engineering (DESTEC), University of Pisa, 56122 Pisa, Italy
Interests: HVAC system; energy efficiency in buildings; heat pumps; thermal comfort; artwork conservation; renewable energy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During the last decades, an increasing attention has been paid by scholars and professionals to techniques and technologies for improving the conservation of historic buildings, which represent a significant percentage of the building stock in Europe. As part of our historical and cultural heritage, it is important to preserve their envelopes and their inner structures, which often have artistic value and represent the memory of the past. In many cases, those buildings host also artworks, such as frescoes, antique furniture, statues, and also collections and other items of artistic, cultural, or scientific significance, that need for specific preservation measures.

At the same time, ways to reduce historic buildings energy consumption proved to be very challenging because of the need to balance on the one hand the conservation principles, and on the other hand that of providing thermal and visual comfort to the users through dedicated mechanical systems.

Current research has focused on the identification of models to predict the effects of indoor climate to artwork damage, together with methods and tools to reduce them, maximizing the life span of the artifacts and the buildings structure.

This special issue aims at enlarging this knowledge, and welcomes original research related to techniques, technologies and methodological approaches to the conservation of the envelope and of the indoor artifacts features, along with ways to guarantee indoor comfort conditions and reduce the energy consumption. The discussion of case studies, as well as of simulation works, is encouraged.

Dr. Vincenzo Costanzo
Dr. Eva Schito
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Historic buildings
  • Energy audit
  • Energy efficiency
  • Monitoring campaign
  • Building simulation
  • HVAC systems and ventilation
  • Thermal and visual comfort
  • Artworks conservation
  • Multi-objective optimization

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Risk-Benefit Assessment Scheme for Renewable Solar Solutions in Traditional and Historic Buildings
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5246; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095246 - 07 May 2021
Viewed by 573
Abstract
Within the framework of IEA-SHC Task 59, a multidisciplinary team of experts from around the world has come together to investigate current approaches for energy retrofit of the built heritage with energy efficiency conservation-compatible measures, in accordance with cultural and heritage values, and [...] Read more.
Within the framework of IEA-SHC Task 59, a multidisciplinary team of experts from around the world has come together to investigate current approaches for energy retrofit of the built heritage with energy efficiency conservation-compatible measures, in accordance with cultural and heritage values, and to check and adapt the new standard EN-16883:2017 for historic buildings. This paper introduces activities within IEA-SHC Task 59 (Subtask C) focused on retrofit solutions with high impact on sustainability, energy efficiency, and the integration of renewables, which is the main goal of the solar group, focused on the integrated solar systems for historic buildings. Relying on an extensive, detailed, and accurate collection of case studies of application of solar photovoltaic and thermal systems in historic buildings, the assessment criteria of the standard have been reviewed and tailored for better solar implementation evaluation in a heritage context. All this is studied based on technical compatibility, the heritage significance of the building and its settings, the economic viability, the energy performances and indoor environmental quality and use, as well as the impact on the outdoor environment of solar renewables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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Article
Photovoltaic BIPV Systems and Architectural Heritage: New Balance between Conservation and Transformation. An Assessment Method for Heritage Values Compatibility and Energy Benefits of Interventions
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5107; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095107 - 02 May 2021
Viewed by 536
Abstract
This paper proposes to identify an approach methodology for the incorporation of building-integrated photovoltaic systems (BIPV) in existing architectural heritage, considering regulatory, conservation and energy aspects. The main objective is to provide information about guidance criteria related to the integration of BIPV in [...] Read more.
This paper proposes to identify an approach methodology for the incorporation of building-integrated photovoltaic systems (BIPV) in existing architectural heritage, considering regulatory, conservation and energy aspects. The main objective is to provide information about guidance criteria related to the integration of BIPV in historical buildings and about intervention methods. That will be followed by the development of useful data to reorient and update the guidelines and guidance documents, both for the design approach and for the evaluation of potential future interventions. The research methodology includes a categorization and analysis of European and Swiss case studies, taking into account the state of preservation of the building before the intervention, the data of the applied photovoltaic technology and the aesthetic and energy contribution of the intervention. The result, in the form of graphic schedules, provides complete information for a real evaluation of the analyzed case studies and of the BIPV technological system used in historical contexts. This research promotes a conscious BIPV as a real opportunity to use technology and a contemporary architectural language capable of dialoguing with pre-existing buildings to significantly improve energy efficiency and determine a new value system for the historical building and its environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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Article
Barriers on Establishing Passive Strategies in Office Spaces: A Case Study in a Historic University Building
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4563; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084563 - 20 Apr 2021
Viewed by 597
Abstract
The adaptation of spaces to different usage typologies can be complex in heritage buildings. Facilities were initially planned for a specific type of use that, when changed, require additional measures to ensure a suitable indoor environment. Passive strategies—e.g., free cooling—are commonly used as [...] Read more.
The adaptation of spaces to different usage typologies can be complex in heritage buildings. Facilities were initially planned for a specific type of use that, when changed, require additional measures to ensure a suitable indoor environment. Passive strategies—e.g., free cooling—are commonly used as an alternative without requiring equipment installation. However, its implementation often leads to unsatisfactory conditions. Therefore, it is important to clarify the main barriers to achieving thermal comfort in readapted historic buildings. The present work investigates the thermal comfort conditions reported by workers in office spaces of a historic building in the University of Coimbra. A monitoring campaign was carried out between May and September 2020 to assess indoor conditions’ quality. Due to the current pandemic of COVID-19, offices were not occupied at full capacity. A one-day evaluation of thermal comfort was made using a climate analyzer and six occupants were surveyed on 19 August 2020. The main results highlighted discomfort due to overheating of spaces. The causes were related to the combination of inadequate implementation of the free cooling actions and the building use. Furthermore, it was recommended the installation of HVAC systems in case of full capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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Article
Evaluation of Sustainability Principles in Adaptable Re-Functioning: Traditional Residences in Demirel Complex
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2514; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052514 - 26 Feb 2021
Viewed by 455
Abstract
Sustainable living is basically being able to construct the balance of protecting and using natural resources. In this way, the heritage value transferred to future generations is formed by the interaction of people and the environment. This is also very important for “architecture”, [...] Read more.
Sustainable living is basically being able to construct the balance of protecting and using natural resources. In this way, the heritage value transferred to future generations is formed by the interaction of people and the environment. This is also very important for “architecture”, which expresses sustainability and is an important tool. In addition to the continuity of sustainable architecture and cultural heritage, it is possible to create economic resources and detect sociological data. Local architecture, which bridges the past and the present and best reveals the relationship of people with each other and their environment, has a place in many parts of the world with its rich diversity. Local architecture has an active place in contemporary society with its cultural, socio-economic and concrete identity values. These structures are protected by various strategies and methods and transferred to future generations. One of these methods is adaptive re-use. Within the scope of adaptive re-use, the study examined the principles of sustainability through eight second-degree registered İslamköy residences in the Demirel Complex of İslamköy village in Atabey district of Isparta province in Turkey. Thus, by evaluating three basic principles, environmental, economic and social, in terms of the continuity of local architecture with the sub-parameters determined, it was aimed to reveal the benefits and damages caused by the complex to the settlement in terms of sustainability. In this way, the change and transformation created by re-functioning with the renewal of building materials and typology was examined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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Article
Integration of Energy-Efficient Ventilation Systems in Historic Buildings—Review and Proposal of a Systematic Intervention Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2325; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042325 - 20 Feb 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1149
Abstract
Historic building restoration and renovation requires sensitivity to the cultural heritage, historic value, and sustainability (i.e., building physics, energy efficiency, and comfort) goals of the project. Energy-efficient ventilation such as demand-controlled ventilation and heat recovery ventilation can contribute to the aforementioned goals, if [...] Read more.
Historic building restoration and renovation requires sensitivity to the cultural heritage, historic value, and sustainability (i.e., building physics, energy efficiency, and comfort) goals of the project. Energy-efficient ventilation such as demand-controlled ventilation and heat recovery ventilation can contribute to the aforementioned goals, if ventilation concepts and airflow distribution are planned and realized in a minimally invasive way. Compared to new buildings, the building physics of historic buildings are more complicated in terms of hygrothermal performance. In particular, if internal insulation is applied, dehumidification is needed for robust and risk-free future use, while maintaining the building’s cultural value. As each ventilation system has to be chosen and adapted individually to the specific building, the selection of the appropriate system type is not an easy task. For this reason, there is a need for a scientifically valid, systematic approach to pair appropriate ventilation system and airflow distribution solutions with historical buildings. This paper provides an overview of the interrelationships between heritage conservation and the need for ventilation in energy-efficient buildings, regarding building physics and indoor environmental quality. Furthermore, a systematic approach based on assessment criteria in terms of heritage significance of the building, building physics (hygrothermal performance), and building services (energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and comfort rating) according to the standard EN 16883:2017 are applied. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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Review

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Review
Conservation-Compatible Retrofit Solutions in Historic Buildings: An Integrated Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2927; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052927 - 08 Mar 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1059
Abstract
Historic, listed, or unlisted, buildings account for 30% of the European building stock. Since they are complex systems of cultural, architectural, and identity value, they need particular attention to ensure that they are preserved, used, and managed over time in a sustainable way. [...] Read more.
Historic, listed, or unlisted, buildings account for 30% of the European building stock. Since they are complex systems of cultural, architectural, and identity value, they need particular attention to ensure that they are preserved, used, and managed over time in a sustainable way. This implies a demand for retrofit solutions able to improve indoor thermal conditions while reducing the use of energy sources and preserving the heritage significance. Often, however, the choice and implementation of retrofit solutions in historic buildings is limited by socio-technical barriers (regulations, lack of knowledge on the hygrothermal behaviour of built heritage, economic viability, etc.). This paper presents the approach devised in the IEA-SHC Task 59 project (Renovating Historic Buildings Towards Zero Energy) to support decision makers in selecting retrofit solutions, in accordance with the provision of the EN 16883:2017 standard. In particular, the method followed by the project partners to gather and assess compatible solutions for historic buildings retrofitting is presented. It focuses on best practices for walls, windows, HVAC systems, and solar technologies. This work demonstrates that well-balanced retrofit solutions can exist and can be evaluated case-by-case through detailed assessment criteria. As a main result, the paper encourages decision makers to opt for tailored energy retrofit to solve the conflict between conservation and energy performance requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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Review
How Can Scientific Literature Support Decision-Making in the Renovation of Historic Buildings? An Evidence-Based Approach for Improving the Performance of Walls
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2266; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042266 - 19 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1177
Abstract
Buildings of heritage significance due to their historical, architectural, or cultural value, here called historic buildings, constitute a large proportion of the building stock in many countries around the world. Improving the performance of such buildings is necessary to lower the carbon emissions [...] Read more.
Buildings of heritage significance due to their historical, architectural, or cultural value, here called historic buildings, constitute a large proportion of the building stock in many countries around the world. Improving the performance of such buildings is necessary to lower the carbon emissions of the stock, which generates around 40% of the overall emissions worldwide. In historic buildings, it is estimated that heat loss through external walls contributes significantly to the overall energy consumption, and is associated with poor thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Measures to improve the performance of walls of historic buildings require a balance between energy performance, indoor environmental quality, heritage significance, and technical compatibility. Appropriate wall measures are available, but the correct selection and implementation require an integrated process throughout assessment (planning), design, construction, and use. Despite the available knowledge, decision-makers often have limited access to robust information on tested retrofit measures, hindering the implementation of deep renovation. This paper provides an evidence-based approach on the steps required during assessment, design, and construction, and after retrofitting through a literature review. Moreover, it provides a review of possible measures for wall retrofit within the deep renovation of historic buildings, including their advantages and disadvantages and the required considerations based on context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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Review
What Are the Implications of Climate Change for Retrofitted Historic Buildings? A Literature Review
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7557; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187557 - 14 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 850
Abstract
Historic buildings account for more than one-quarter of Europe’s existing building stock and are going to be crucial in the achievement of future energy targets. Although a drastic reduction in carbon emissions would slow climate change, an alteration in the climate is already [...] Read more.
Historic buildings account for more than one-quarter of Europe’s existing building stock and are going to be crucial in the achievement of future energy targets. Although a drastic reduction in carbon emissions would slow climate change, an alteration in the climate is already certain. Therefore, the impact of climate change on retrofitted historic buildings should be considered in terms of occupants’ comfort, heritage conservation, and energy performance. Inappropriate interventions might weaken the potential of traditional climate adaptive solutions, such as thermal mass and night cooling, leading to higher risks of overheating in a warming climate. Similarly, retrofit solutions will change the moisture dynamics of historic envelopes, which might lead to moisture damages when combined with more extreme precipitation events. This paper reviews recent literature that provides evidence of climate change’s impact on retrofitted buildings, reveals potential future risks, and thereby sheds light on new factors influencing the decision-making process in the retrofit of historic buildings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Historic Buildings Conservation and Energy Efficiency)
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