Theses Master's

Towards Best Practices for Historic Retrofits: Tradeoffs for Historic Buildings’ Operating Energy Retrofits

Elias, Bruno

The acute character of the current environmental and climate crisis underpins the urgency in considering the role the existing built stock has in this challenge of the twenty-first century. Historic properties, as part of this group, are in the unique position to capitalize on their qualitative properties and achieve verified high performances in environmental sustainability. In order to enforce change in the scale required to at least mitigate these climate challenges, regulation and policy will target historic properties’ energy performance, and energy retrofits will become commonplace.

Given that a building-by-building approach to solve this performance deficit has been insufficient to produce results at scale and buildings listed - or eligible for listing - in the United States National Register of Historic Buildings have been exempted from energy codes, this research asks:

1. What is the current trend in policy making towards building performance?
2. How historic properties have been retrofitted both individually (unit) and as a group (region)?
3. What parameters or performance indicators have achieved better performance outcomes in this technology?
4. What can be a viable methodology towards improving historic building’s performance indicators through a more systemic approach, where previous outcomes inform new retrofit projects?

The thesis explores the energy regulatory contexts of the United States, Brazil and Scotland, and connects the energy regulation to a set of case studies, with more complete analysis of the New York County Supreme Court, the Ford Foundation Building, and a Scottish tenement building in Glasgow. From the interpretation of the outcomes from these retrofit projects, the set of actions for policymakers and practitioners is suggested, along with the consequences of this suggested approach for historic properties at large.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Avrami, Erica C.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 2, 2021