Preserving the Past, Protecting the Future: Energy Retrofits
We’ve worked on old houses in New England for years and have learned that well-built wooden structures can last a very long time – like 100 to 300 years. As stewards of these historic homes and the environment, we assess how to improve energy efficiency and decrease energy demand through an energy.
The big question is how to provide an energy retrofit while maintaining the historic fabric and beauty of the original structure.
We start by analyzing whether the building is worth saving – a complicated evaluation that considers many factors such as structural integrity, moisture intrusion, and historic value. We take this assessment very seriously, as the embodied energy in an existing building is so important to consider.
Embodied carbon: What is it?
Embodied energy, or what we think is a more important consideration, embodied carbon, is the energy, or carbon emissions, from material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, assembly, and distribution of materials. It’s a big factor in the equation; however, sometimes buildings need so much work and additional materials that it’s just not worth saving. When this happens, we focus on repurposing the material that we remove, whether it’s the framing from old growth forests that we can use for interior trim or the split sheathing that can become beautiful wall coverings. This is wonderful material that doesn’t belong in the landfill, which only adds more carbon into the atmosphere through rot and decay.
Once we decide to proceed with an energy retrofit of the structure, we consider what level of energy upgrade makes sense and how to do this by taking into account our decisions about healthy and sustainable building materials, budget, longevity, building science, comfort, resiliency and much more. Sometimes, a phased retrofit is the best approach.
People often ask us, “What’s the payback from an energy retrofit?” While that’s certainly a fair question, few customers ask, “What’s the payback from my new kitchen counters or remodeled bathroom?”
A well planned and implemented energy upgrade is the one thing we can do to our homes that not only adds comfort, durability, and decreased carbon emissions but also keeps adding value as energy prices continue to rise.Through our knowledge of old and historic buildings and years of experience in energy efficiency, we can help guide you while at the same time improve our built environment for generations to come.