Sir John A Macdonald Building Main Mechanical Room

The ASHRAE Energy Guideline for Historical Buildings is Now in its Second Public Review Draft

There are countless heritage buildings that present a significant opportunity for reducing energy use within the worldwide building stock.  However, modern codes and standards are often ill-equipped to accommodate the passive and historic HVAC strategies employed in these buildings.  As a consequence, historic buildings were and are often “modernized” with little regard for the significance and functionality of their systems, resulting in the disruption to heritage finishes and building components.  To recognize their role in the industry as a whole and to better accommodate the considerations unique to heritage building the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration Engineers has created the ASHRAE Standard 34P:  Energy Guideline for Historical Buildings.  It is currently in its second public review draft, a draft that is available here for comment.

The intent of this document is described as follows by ASHRAE:

1.1 The purpose of this guideline is to provide sound advice to those who plan to undertake energy efficiency and energy conservation improvement projects and programs involving historic structures on the practices, processes and workflows that should be followed, including procedures:

  1. for energy efficient operation, maintenance,
  2. to improve the efficiency of energy-using building systems and equipment, and
  3. to improve the energy performance of the building’s envelope.

1.2 This guideline will provide advice related to implementing projects and programs in historic buildings and structures to achieve improved energy efficiency while minimizing disturbance to the historic character, characteristics and materials (significance, value and qualities) of the building, including:

  1. envelope modifications and upgrades to control heat and moisture transfer and limit air infiltration,
  2. adding new HVAC systems or improving existing HVAC systems to improve energy efficiency while maintaining human comfort and providing acceptable indoor environmental quality, and
  3. adding new lighting systems or upgrading existing systems that provide energy efficient solutions while maintaining the historic qualities of the building.

2.1 This guideline applies to those buildings that are defined as historic buildings or which are eligible to be so defined by applicable law in the jurisdiction where the building is located.