Maintaining historical buildings is a labor of love as much as it is a job. Between aging mechanics and utilities, a lack of modern building planning, and the need to make buildings useful in a modern world, facilities maintenance managers face many challenges. But you can successfully keep a building's charm and character while keeping it ready for today's energy conscious world. Here are a few ways to marry these goals.
Add Outside Green Elements
Sustainability and energy efficiency are necessary not just for appeal but also to keep a building's cost as low as possible. But retrofitting an older building with modern efficiency elements — like solar panels, modern windows, or modernized piping — may cause the building to lose its historical flavor and value. It may also not be allowed due to local historical and zoning requirements. What can you do in this situation?
You may want to begin by purchasing "green" or renewable energy from your utility company. This allows the building's owner to offset the limitations of an old structure by matching it with new technology at a different location. Or, consider energy sources that aren't visibly connected to the building, such as geothermal wells.
Get Original Features Working
While original environmental elements may not be ideal, they can still serve a purpose as long as they're functional and used correctly. Are there old, original shutters or movable windows? Get them working so that building users can comfortably control their room climates without resorting to HVAC and other electrical methods.
Consulting the original plans can also help you make the best use of existing climate controls. Original layouts and covered-over features may give a clue as to how to use nature to distribute light, heat, and cold. Open up skylights, unseal painted-over windows, and make use of outside entrances that can help bring in natural sunlight and a cool breeze.
Look for Invisible Changes
Some energy efficient moves can be made without affecting the visible parts of the building. For instance, rather than focusing on replacing aging and inefficient windows, look for invisible updates that could be made to the old sash, jamb, and joints in order to make them more efficient without altering the window's historicity. Adding a period-appropriate shade, awning, or balcony can help cool a hot spot by providing natural shading. In contrast, keeping upper windows out of the shade of trees and buildings helps them heat up naturally.
There are many ways that a creative and diligent facilities maintenance manager can help bring new life to an old building. For more ideas on working with a historical building's maintenance needs, talk to a facilities maintenance training service today.