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Themeninfos – A compact guide to energy research

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In the 19th century, daylight ceilings in museums were common. By now, there are technical solutions which assure that the indoor climate in the rooms below meets the current requirements as well.
© Kunsthalle Mannheim / Cem Yücetas 2014
Refurbishment of buildings listed as historic monuments
Themeninfo II/2014
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Sustainable refurbishment of museums

There are more than 7,000 museums in Germany. Especially in the 19th century, magnificent buildings were built for exhibition purposes, most of which still exist today. However, many museum buildings are now in need of refurbishment and their systems technology is outdated. At the same time, the financial position of cities and municipalities has become so acute that public amenities, such as swimming pools and libraries, are being forced to close. There is therefore a move towards transforming museums into independently operated enterprises that have to bear at least part of the maintenance, upkeep and utility costs for their buildings themselves.

The extensive building services technology, which is mostly required for conservation reasons, can incur considerable energy costs that have a significant impact on the overall expenditure. Museum operators therefore have an interest in consuming as little energy as possible in order to achieve an adequate indoor environment. However, it is not enough to rely on contracting external providers with the task of optimising the system operations on a success basis. Only a comprehensive, energy-oriented refurbishment can lead to a sustained reduction in the energy consumption. If other structural measures are pending, for example in order to comply with fire protection requirements, this provides an excellent opportunity to simultaneously improve the energy efficiency.

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Planning the sustainable refurbishment of a museum building requires a holistic approach and a high level of knowledge among the operators and designers. Since 2008, a research team has therefore been working on this aspect as part of a joint research project. The team is involved in numerous planning and construction projects. The projects are pursuing three aims: preserving the building fabric as historic monuments, meeting conservation requirements with low technological effort and improving the overall energy efficiency.

However, the refurbishment work should not focus solely on the indoor environmental requirements and their energy balance. Sensible pest prevention is just as elementary as concepts for easy-to-clean floor surfaces, fire protection and safety, security and devising emergency plans. Successful refurbishments therefore offer an opportunity to bring the energy-saving strategies to a wider audience.

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Project description
Weblink with further information on the model project "General refurbishment of the Kunsthalle Mannheim".

Further information on the projects of the EnOB research initiative is available at enob.info.