Finding Common Ground with Historic Preservation: Notes from the Field


In recent years there has been growing interest in both the green building and historic preservation communities to find practical solutions to energy use issues in historic structures. Design, construction, planning and preservation professionals are taking new approaches to old problems and common ground is being found. Here are a few examples of Southface’s recent energy efficiency work on historic structures.

Historic Stone Mountain City Hall, Stone Mountain, GA

Built from locally quarried granite, Stone Mountain’s historic city hall is actually two buildings (constructed 1857 and 1914) under one roof. The City of Stone Mountain, which certified its new city hall as an EarthCraft Light Commercial pilot project in 2012, is considering the renovation of this structure as a potential pilot for a preservation-focused green building program based on EarthCraft standards. After Southface performed blower door air leakage testing and infrared thermography, it was found that much of the infiltration occurred from the common roof area. This information allowed the design team to understand which envelope improvements would have the greatest impact on building performance.

Ennis Hall, Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, GA

Southface performed a multipoint blower door pressure test on one floor of this four-story former residence hall (constructed 1918) to determine the building’s major air leakage paths on both the exterior and interior. This information guided the design of envelope improvements and helped to identify potential issues for the building program’s complex exhaust and ventilation needs. Lord, Aeck & Sargent Architects is renovating the 30,000 square foot former dormitory to serve as art school studios.

Wrens Nest, West End, Atlanta, GA

The Wren's Nest House Museum and Educational resource center received a blower door air leakage assessment as part of a full energy assessment.

The Wren's Nest House Museum and Educational resource center received a blower door air leakage assessment as part of a full energy assessment.

In preparation for an EPA Region 4 conference on sustainability and historic preservation, a team of building scientists from Southface performed a full energy assessment of the former home of author Joel Candler Harris. The Wren’s Nest (constructed 1870) received a blower door air leakage assessment, diagnostic infrared imaging and inspections of its insulation and mechanical equipment. This data was used to guide a charrette team comprised of 30 design, preservation and planning professionals as they developed sustainability and energy efficiency recommendations for the structure’s upcoming capital improvement campaign.

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