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14 01 2016
Getting the Proper Insulation for Listed Period Buildings

Wintertime presents property owners with its very own challenges. Insufficient insulation and high walls can drive up the heating costs and increase the risk of mould formation. While listed buildings are not subject to the same thermal insulation requirements as modern ones, they will have to improve their energy efficiency by 2050. Historic façades are easy to insulate from the inside so as not to impair the exterior appearance of an old, time-honoured building. In this context, modern energy concepts take both thermal insulation in the building fabric into account and the efficiency of heating and mechanical/electrical services. Thus, there are a number of steps that owners can take to upgrade their properties in terms of energy performance, and this even if the properties are listed.

Alternatives to External Wall Insulation: Internal Wall Insulation in Cold-Sensitive Areas

In order to leave the outer building corpus intact, thermal insulation should be fitted to the interior walls wherever possible. The insulation panels used to this end must be vapour permeable to dehumidify the walls and to prevent mould. The same strategy can be used for floors and ceilings. Effective energy conservation does not require insulating the interior throughout. Rather, it suffices to insulate thermally sensitive areas such as window areas, ceilings and the top sections of radiator alcoves. Other great options include new energy-efficient windows using thermal glazing, and heating systems like wood pellet heating or combined heat and power plants in larger buildings. Another energy refurbishment option may reveal itself upon closer inspection of the property at hand, because as often as not, only the front of the building will be ornamented and listed whereas the court side is merely cement-rendered. Here, external wall insulation can be the solution of choice, subject to arrangement with the heritage conservation authority.

The Financial Benefits of Energy Refurbishments of Listed Buildings

Any alteration of a listed property requires consent. Assistance and guidance to owners who are planning to refurbish heritage assets is provided by architects, heritage curators and the local heritage conservation authority. In many cases, government authorities will offer support, and it is worth noting that they are obliged to limit the expenditures for property owners. A refurbishment also entails financial benefits, because the cost of refurbishment as well as the upkeep of a listed property are subsidised through tax allowances. Eligible for government benefits of this sort are any measures necessary to preserve a given heritage asset and to make it available for sensible use, including energy saving measures. Some German states even offer government grants for energy refurbishment measures.