Teaching old buildings new tricks

They don’t make buildings like they used to – head to some of the older American cities and you’ll see what we mean. Despite their age, those brick-and-mortar buildings stand strong after hundreds of years in some cases. National landmarks like Harvard University and the White House are still standing today. But that isn’t to say these structures and similar ones have been unaltered in their long histories. “Architects and city planners take time to retrofit their old landmarks with new systems in order to preserve them for generations to come.” As much as old architecture techniques can yield sturdy structures, many of those buildings lack the best insulation systems, exterior coatings or moisture barriers. As a result, living or working in those spaces can be uncomfortable. Additionally, the exposed brick or cement will ultimately succumb to the corrosive properties of air, dirt and water. Not only that, but inefficient buildings are more expensive to maintain and have a bigger carbon footprint than their modern counterparts. That’s why architects and city planners take time to retrofit their old landmarks with new systems in order to preserve them for generations to come. There are new, powerful techniques by which builders can strengthen existing buildings through non-invasive means – protecting the building without making significant alterations. Exterior cladding proves an effective energy reduction tool When most people consider building retrofits and energy efficiency, solar panels and modern boilers might be the first things that come to mind. While those methods are effective – albeit costly – exterior insulation and finish systems are simpler and could offer similar benefits. Improvements to building envelope, lighting systems and other non-invasive changes can reduce a building’s energy consumption by as much as 60 percent, according to Sourceable. These findings, reported by the Energy Star Portfolio Manager Study, “[challenged] a longstanding misconception that building efficiency can be defined by the presence of efficiency equipment.” Through the use of state of the art finishes, high performance claddings and exterior wall systems architects can greatly impact building performance without a massive overhaul. New York City hopes to retrofit buildings and save energy. Retrofitting to play a major role in NYC efficiency efforts Back in September, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced an ambitious goal on the heels of his election: an 80 percent reduction in the city’s carbon emissions by 2050, reported the New York Times. Such a drastic improvement cannot be realized in any one area, but building retrofit is shaping up as an important step in the journey. The sheer number of buildings in New York City represent ample opportunities to reduce energy consumption, as it is unlikely that each one is outfitted with the latest in building […]