Energy-efficient building technologies and renewable sources of energy are in widespread use today for new builds. However, existing buildings possess considerable potential – as yet unused – for saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions. Renovating the stock of existing buildings in city centres sustainably plays a crucial part in achieving EU and national energy and environmental targets. In European city centres historic buildings predominate; conserving this fabric, with its cultural import, and developing it further is an opportunity to steer urban development in a more sustainable direction.
Renovating historic buildings is an activity where architectural, legal, social and technical issues intersect. Particularly in city centres, there are often special obstacles to innovative renovation strategies, such as rules applying to listed buildings or requirements for urban protected areas. If renovation is to be worth while in these difficult contexts, there is urgent need of intelligent technical and organizational approaches that can be implemented to users’ advantage and cost-effectively.
In Austria various projects have been launched in recent years with the aim of improving the thermal efficiency of historic buildings. Within the framework of the programmes “Building of Tomorrow” (Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology) und “New Energies 2020” (Climate & Energy Fund), suitable technologies and strategies are being researched, developed and demonstrated. The research findings and demonstration projects presented here show that energy efficiency and using renewable sources of energy are perfectly feasible even in historically valuable buildings.