Congratulations, if you are renovating an existing building, you've already made an environmentally beneficial choice. You're avoiding building on undeveloped land and you are using existing infrastructure like roads, water and sewer lines, electrical connections and so on.
There are many ways to incorporate sustainability concepts in building renovation projects. Renovation projects may range from a simple relighting program to gutting the building to its shell and rebuilding its interior or adding a significant new addition to an existing building. Software simulation tools can model proposed renovations to analyze how much energy they will save.
Some of the simplest ways to add energy efficiency to retrofit projects include using efficient lighting, appliances, and equipment. Improved controls can also reduce HVAC and electrical use. Working with an energy service company can help you to achieve your retrofit goals.
For retrofit projects, consider:
Daylighting strategies, such as making atria out of courtyards or adding clerestories, along with modification of the electric lighting system to ensure energy savings
Heat control techniques, such as adding exterior shades or overhangs
Using passive solar heating strategies to allow modification of HVAC systems-perhaps down-sizing if the passive strategies reduce energy loads sufficiently.
When renovating older buildings, determine whether passive features that have been disabled can be revitalized.
Boosting wall insulation levels in existing buildings is difficult without expensive building modifications. One option for existing buildings is adding an exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) on the outside of the current building skin. With EIFS, use only systems that include a drainage layer to accommodate small leaks that may occur over time-avoid barrier-type systems.
Roof insulation can typically be increased relatively easily during reroofing. At the time of reroofing, consider switching to a protected-membrane roofing system, which will allow reuse of the rigid insulation during future reroofing-thus greatly cutting down on landfill disposal.
Figure 5: This three-story Victorian home in St. Louis, Missouri, was built in 1885 and was renovated in 1994 to demonstrate the practical use of many energy efficient systems including a photovoltaic solar system. The 1.5 kW PV system (lower left) is used to power all of the kitchen appliances.