The U.S. National Fire Protection Association reported one structure fire every minute in 2015, with over 19,000 deaths and injuries and $14.3B in property loss. In Vermont, fire has damaged and destroyed numerous landmark buildings over the past several years. How can stewards of historic commercial and public buildings avoid having their properties become part of these sobering statistics?
Colleagues from the Preservation Trust, the Division for Historic Preservation, and Jeremiah Parker Restoration have been working collaboratively with Efficiency Vermont to better understand energy efficiency in relation to historic buildings.
We’re in full agreement on where to start to realize energy savings and improved building performance, including:
- addressing moisture problems
- installing efficient furnaces, appliances and light bulbs effectively
- sealing air leaks with an awareness of combustion safety effectively insulating attics and foundations weatherizing historic windows and installing high quality storm windows
- insulating walls: Because of the potential serious moisture damage risk to historic structures, consider wall insulation after evaluating the other improvements, taking into account construction type, expected costs and savings, materials and existing or potential moisture problems. Make sure that you or a potential contractor has a professional understanding of both interior moisture and exterior water management strategies to manage any risk to the building.
The work described in the bullets above will realize a substantial return on investment for any building. As with any weatherization improvements, an understanding of existing and potential moisture issues or effects on combustion appliances is very important.
The Energy-Smart Home booklet is a good source for guidance, and can be viewed or downloaded from the Efficiency Vermont website at:
A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Energy Star Home Sealing can be viewed or downloaded from Efficiency Vermont at:
The National Park Service Preservation Brief #3
Conserving Energy in Historic Buildings
The National Park Servie Preservation Brief #24
Heating, Ventilating & Coolling Historic Buildings
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a deep collection of articles and how-to’s regarding insulating historic buildings