Green Light District: Energy renovation of monumental buildings

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By 2050 the municipality of Amsterdam plans to become climate neutral. The historic city center of Amsterdam poses a challenge in this ambition, as it is home to numerous monumental buildings. Conservation is the starting point for the renovation of monumental buildings and consequently additional regulations are in place. Furthermore, each building is unique, thus renovation of monuments requires customization, making it more expensive and unattractive. Research has shown that due to restricted renovation possibilities, the indoor comfort and energy performance of monumental buildings are often below standard.
This research aims to create an energy-neutral renovation for a monumental building in the oldest neighborhood of Amsterdam: the Burgwallen-Oude Zijde. Resulting in the following research question: “How can monumental buildings be renovated to become energy neutral and comfortable for the users, whilst preserving the monumental status?” A renovation design is made for a mixed-use monumental building and elaborated into a generic approach.
Through careful analysis of the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30, the chosen case study building, it was determined that a significant part of the building is not monumental. Furthermore, it was confirmed that the energy usage of the building is relatively high, and that the indoor comfort is currently not up to standard. To improve the energy performance and indoor comfort, a design is proposed in which different design measures are suggested. The design makes use of the potential of the neighborhood as it uses aquathermal heat (LT) from the canal in combination with heat pumps as basis for the heating of the building. The building is insulated using a combination of exterior and interior insulation, crack & seam filling, and double-glazed windows. For the monumental parts of the building a wall heating system is proposed, in which the walls are slightly heated to minimize energy losses to the exterior (‘WarmBouwen’ concept’). Energy is produced on site using PV roof tiles on the South facing roofs and several other small design interventions are proposed. Evaluation of the proposed design reveals that none of the identified monumental elements are altered, the energy demand of the building is lowered by 73% and that the indoor comfort increases significantly.
By following the proposed generic approach of (1) identifying the heritage values, (2) assessing the current performance of the building, (3) creating concept designs, (4) finalizing the design, and (5) evaluating the design, the remaining energy demand of the proposed design for the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30 has not been reduced to zero and is thus not energy neutral. This is mostly due to restricted renovation possibilities and limited roof area for on-site energy production. The proposed design does make the Oudezijds Voorburgwal 30 BENG compliant: a step in the right direction, but for monumental buildings to become energy neutral a fairer middle ground between conservation and sustainability should be found. We should ask ourselves: how far should one go to preserve the past if it limits or damages our future?