A sustainable approach to the adaptive reuse of historic brick buildings: Analysis of energy saving strategies for historic facade retrofits


IBPC (International building Physics Conference) 7th,

Conference paper

Oral Presentation

Donghwan Kim and Juliana Felkner

School of Architecture

Sustainable Built Environment Group, School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA




There are many historic brick buildings in downtown areas of the U.S. that are awaiting appropriate strategies for their adaptive reuse and preservation. The adaptive reuse method enables the adaptation of existing, obsolete historic buildings into new, mixed-use developments that will play an essential role in enhancing urban environments. However, many of these buildings have poor energy performance. This paper explores sustainable methods to balance between historic preservation and reduction of peak energy loads, through analyzing design strategies and conducting energy simulations for a building in downtown, Austin, TX. Energy retrofits related to windows, high performance of the facades with added insulation, and passive (spatial) interventions are covered in depth. Four retrofit scenarios were applied and simulated using the energy analysis tool in Revit, a popular BIM program. Analyzing the energy consumption data, we compare an existing building’s facade condition to the retrofit scenarios’ energy performances and record the energy performance data. This research proposes energy efficient preservation options for historic buildings and ultimately emphasizes potential values such as balancing the integrity of the original design with energy goals. We explore novel solutions for making historic buildings more sustainable through combining the adaptive reuse method with energy retrofit strategies that play up the historic buildings’ unique passive potentials. The various solutions are found to be highly dependent on the climate.

Keywords: energy retrofit, adaptive reuse, historic preservation, facade, peak energy demand reduction





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