An Efficient Future for Buildings of the Past Proposed Under ASHRAE Guideline

ATLANTA – Historical buildings – from those on the local Main Street to world-renowned structures – could be brought from the past into an energy reduced future under a proposed guideline from ASHRAE.

ASHRAE Guideline 34P, Energy Guideline for Historical Buildings, provides advice for energy efficiency and energy conservation improvements involving historic structures. These improvements would seek to minimize disturbances to the historic character, characteristics and materials (significance, value and qualities).

The proposed standard is open for a second public comment until May 2, 2016. To comment or learn more, visit

“The worldwide preservation community recognizes the importance of reducing the consumption of fuels,” William Rose, a member of the Guideline 34P committee, said. “Many codes and standards exempt such buildings from energy conservation requirements, based on an assumption that imposition of energy-saving measures may compete with preservation requirements. Nevertheless, preservationists generally wish to balance the mandate to maintain the integrity and authenticity of their buildings with growing needs for energy conservation. And some codes, notably the recent International Energy Conservation Code, have moved from a blanket exemption to a narrower provision-by-provision basis.”

Guideline 34P, which offers assistance for the range of historic buildings, will help those engaged in preservation to design and provide energy conservation measures. Rose said it also will help those engaged in energy conservation to propose and adopt measures consistent with preservation practice. The guideline addresses planning and operation, mechanical systems, building envelopes and lighting.

The guideline was the idea of Presidential Member Tom Watson for whom historical buildings are a pet project.

“We just can’t give up on using historic buildings,” he said. “They are too valuable and leave too large an environmental footprint to be neglected or abandoned.”

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its more than 55,000 members worldwide focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability. Through research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today.