Weighing the culture.

2014_12_10 immagine 02After three years of work, the European R&D 3encult Project has come to an end. The project has bridged the gap between conservation of historic buildings and climate protection, which is not an antagonism at all: historic buildings will only survive if maintained as living space. Energy efficient retrofit is useful for structural protection as well as for comfort reasons – comfort for users and “comfort” for heritage collections. 3encult had demonstrated the feasibility of “Factor 4” to “Factor 10” reduction in energy demand, depending on the case and the heritage value.

2014_12_10 immagine 03The Institute for Renewable Energy at EURAC was in charge of a case study in Bolzano: the Public Weigh House.

Last week, on December 3rd, we had the relished opportunity to visit the building together with two of the researchers involved in the project, Elena Lucchi and Francesca Roberti (EURAC). The project is completed but the monitoring of some thermodynamic factors (about 150 sensors have been installed) is still in progress.

This building is placed in the historic city centre and it is part of the “Portici Street”, which was built in the end of the 12th century. It represents a composition of Street market with arcade houses and a central grain trade (“piazza del grano” – grain square), typical for that time. The building of the Weigh House, originally in Romanesque style was reconstructed at the end of 16th century. Until 1780 it was the seat of the so-called “Fronwaage”, a public, officially calibrated town scales. The building consists of 3 full storey, a top floor and two basement floors. The main part has the dimensions: 8,95 x 23,98 m. On the east and west side of the building there are subsequent extensions: on the west side a bridge to the neighbour building on the first, second and top floor with the dimensions of: 3,72 x 6,48 m. On the east side the extension has the dimensions 7,20 x 8,72 m. On the north side of the building there is an arcade gangway on the ground floor.

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Elena Lucchi, EURAC – Institute for Renewable Energy

Status quo

At the moment the building is completely uninhabited. Ground floor was recently used for shops until 2011; at the moment only some windows on ground floor are used for show cases and one corner on ground floor is used for shop. The upper storeys, before used for apartments, are not inhabited since about 10/15 years. Condition of building: Not renovated. Refurbishment planning: The building owner plans to renovate the building during the next years. In summer/autumn 2012 an ideas competition was carried out to define the future utilization concept of the Weighhouse as a “House of Photography”.

Activities performed within the project

  • Precise measurement of stratigraphy of construction elements of the thermal envelope – drawing of detail sections with correct dimensions
  • Thermography: first (02/2011) with unheated building and second (02/2012) with in parts heated building, combined with Blower Door measurement
  • Evaluation of Blower Door Test: measurement without and with top floor (over- and underpressure)
  • Measurement of heat transmission of construction elements of the thermal envelope
  • Determination of a “test room” on the first floor of the building for the installation and testing of prototypes and solutions
  • Radiation measurements
  • Specialists for buildings history are analyzing the whole building structure -> more knowledge on Heritage value of single construction elements
  • Documentation of the building in the DIS database

Development/Implementation of products

  • 2014_12_10 immagine 05

    Francesca Roberti, EURAC – Institute for Renewable Energy

    Internal insulation: Installation of IQ-Therm 8 cm in one “test room” (1st floor)

  • Window prototype: Development of first energy efficient window prototype (coupled window)
  • Development of second energy efficient window prototype (coupled window)
  • Development of an energy efficient prototype for a typical box-type window for historic buildings of Bolzano from the turn of the century

Furthermore, other activities have been implemented: installation of monitoring system, measures for a more realistic situation in the uninhabited building, detailed monitoring of one existing window and the new prototype window, PHPP calculation of as-is-state and calculation with proposed passive solutions, “Test room”: Simulation of joint/installation details (with and without internal insulation) in DELPHIN at some significant points, simulation of energy consumptions and comfort conditions in Energyplus, comparison between the models in Eplus and PHPP results, test room – south-west façade”: model in Energy plus and simulation of different ventilation strategies, as well as simulation of a hybrid ventilation system which exploits the temperature of the cellar for cooling [from the D 6.2 report – Documentation of each study case, CS1 Public Weigh House, Bolzano (Italy), you can downloaded here. All the final results of the project are public and can be consulted on 3encult website].

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As far as I know, this is the ‘state of the art’ project in the field of energy efficiency in historic buildings in Europe. So, enjoy the documents and follow the guidelines for your restoration projects 🙂

2014_12_10 immagine 01After being uninhabited for many years, the Weigh House is starting a new life. See for instance what this new company, Weigh Station for Culture is doing. There’s nothing like a new (social) function to drive the restoration of our cultural heritage … (‘Let’s prepare a better future to our past‘ – copyright Loredana Bruma). 

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