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Task 59 Newsletter Spring 2021

You have received this free email newsletter because you have subscribed to it to receive news about the project Renovating Historic Buildings Towards Zero Energy (HistoricNZEB).

Welcome to Task 59's Spring Newsletter 

The International Energy Agency's IEA-SHC Task 59: Renovating Historic Buildings towards zero energy (HistoricNZEB) showcases examples of how historic buildings from across the world can be renovated to allow substantial reductions in energy use and associated carbon dioxide emissions, while safeguarding the buildings’ cultural significance.

We are looking for feedback on our Task 59 website, and its content. If you would like to give us some feedback about this, please email

This newsletter includes more information about the upcoming SBE21 Heritage Conference as well as an overview of the project’s latest case studies added to the HiBERATLAS platform, our new blog posts and publications, and updates on the project’s events.

On behalf of all the project’s partners and associates, we would like to thank you for subscribing!

FEATURE News about SBE21 Heritage

Task 59 Final Conference

The conference is almost here! From the 14th to the 16th April 2021, the SBE21 Heritage Conference will bring together experts working in the fields of energy efficiency and historic building conservation to foster multidisciplinary dialogues and find new affordable and efficient retrofit approaches for historic buildings and municipalities. Scholars and practitioners worldwide have submitted a range of papers and are looking forward to sharing their contributions.

The conference will be held online. In addition to the conference events, a networking space using the platform Airmeet will enable virtual networking.

The keynote speakers have been announced. These will be Dr. Ege Yildirim, independent consultant and scholar focusing on urban planning and heritage conservation; Ir. Arch. Stijn Cools, founder of aNNo architects and visiting Professor at the University of Leuven; Prof. Harald Garrecht, Professor at the Institute of Construction Materials (IWB) and Director of the Materials Testing Institute, University of Stuttgart.

The programme is also looking great, with individual tracks possible for those interested in specific topic areas. These will be “Conservation of heritage and resources in the built environment”, “Creating favourable framework conditions” and “Development, analysis, and implementation of technical solutions”. Worth mentioned is also the discussion session Research Meets Practice, giving the possibility of dialogue between academics and practitioners, including the roundtable on “The role of historic buildings in new European policies”. Lastly, two parallel heritage workshops in the afternoon of the 14th April. More information can be found on

On-Site Conference Registration Possible!

The SBE21 Heritage staff presents a special last-minute offer for those who did not manage to register for the conference earlier this year. The “on-site” day-by-day registration fee grants access to all sessions and side events scheduled on the day the registration takes place.  

Practical Information

  • “On-site” day-by-day registration fee: 125€ (VAT excluded). The registration only covers one day of the conference. To participate in multiple days, you must register separately for each day.  
  • When: the registration system will be open from the 14th to the 16th of April 2021, from 8:00h to 17:00h CEST.  
  • How: go to and click on the button “Go to registration system”. Please note that the button will be visible only during the conference days. 
  • Payment: only by credit card. American Express is not accepted. 
You will be asked to insert your personal details and invoice data. After your payment is received, you will receive a confirmation email with the link to access SBE21 Heritage sessions and side events. The invoice will be issued the week after the end of the conference. Should you need further assistance, please contact us at


Latest Cases

We have reached and surpassed the target of 50 case studies on the HiBERATLAS! It now includes 51 case studies, with the last few due to be added over the next couple of weeks. Today we are presenting three of the new cases added to the website. Please continue to check back as new projects and feature are added to the platform:

PalaCinema Locarno, Switzerland

In the aftermath of the 2007 global financial crisis and rampant global warming –and perhaps the demise of “starchitecture” as a default procedure to build urban identity–, the Palazzo del Cinema Locarno project is guided by principles of economy, trying to capitalise in the existing structure and the public affection for the Palazzo Scolastico –which used to host the local schools and now hosts a variety of NGOs and community associations, to provide an architectural identity for the new cinema complex in Piazza Remo Rossi in Locarno, in the shores of Maggiore Lake. At a time when energy resources are dwindling and climate change has become a crucial problem for our cities, it would have been irresponsible to simply discard the existing building in order to build an entirely new one, with the corresponding expenditure of vital resources. Urban Recycling is a more adequate strategy for this intervention. Three levels of action to reduce the emissions have been considered: demand reduction, improved energy efficiency of systems and improved building management. A solar plant of 135.7 kWp and an estimated annual production of about 130,000 kWh was installed on the roof.

Klostergebäude Kaiserstrasse, Wien/Vienna, Austria

A multi-purpose used convent building in the heart of Vienna has been refurbished with particular attention to monument preservation and to a new solution for renovating Viennese-type box windows.

Mercado del Val, Valladolid, Spain

Mercado del Val is an iron market whose construction was completed in 1882 and it is located within the old town of Valladolid, Spain, being currently the oldest preserved market in the city. In 2013, the market was fully renovated recovering a late 19th century representative building of an architecture and commercial activity from that period, being respectful with its essence, but transforming it into an innovative building that meets the potentialities and commercial needs of the 21st century. More pictures in

Tour of European best-practice renovations

Come on a virtual tour of best practice renovations of historic buildings! Organised as part of the SBE Conference, visit a number of best practice case studies in the HiBERATLAS to a number of themes:
  • Farmhouses in South Tyrol
  • Solar energy in alpine historic buildings 
  • Industry, trade, and education buildings in Europe tour
To find out more and to access the tour visit

Other News:

European Cultural Heritage Green Paper

An advanced draft of the European Cultural Heritage Green Paper “Putting Europe’s shared heritage at the heart of the European Green Deal” has been published in March 2021. This paper shows the relevance of cultural heritage for achieving the goals of the European Green Deal. This identifies areas of capacity and conflict of the cultural heritage for the deal. Important for this newsletter, it references the HiBERATLAS website as one of a few research projects which ‘should guide any further policy development’.

The European Cultural Heritage Green Paper is produced by Europa Nostra in close cooperation with ICOMOS and the Climate Heritage Network, with the input of other members of the European Heritage Alliance. It is supported by the European Investment Bank Institute and the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Holyrood Park Lodge at band C

Our partners at Historic Environment Scotland have some exciting news about one of the HiBERATLAS case study Holyrood Park Lodge has had some changes. This resulted in am increase in the energy efficiency rating used in Scotland. The building is now at band C with 71 SAP points. This was an improvement of SAP points from 63 (band D) from early last year. Before the refurbishment, the lodge was at band F with 35 SAP points. This is a great result of a refurbishment project, reaching this level of energy efficiency with sympathetic upgrades. Read about this case study in the HES Refurbishment Case Study 37.

NEW BLOG POSTS - updated monthly!

New blog posts are published monthly. This time, two are highlighting different options of BIPV systems in heritage buildings.

Brightly colored solar modules for building facades: State of development of MorphoColor® technology

T. Kroyer, A Dinkel - Fraunhofer ISE

The global photovoltaic market is growing rapidly. In the future, solar module applications will also focus on building facades, where aesthetic aspects are particularly important. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has therefore developed a process for solar modules with a homogeneous and brightly colored surface that are sufficiently efficient. This could drive the use of building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Click here to download the blog about MorphoColour® technology.

BIPV in dialogue with history

C. S. Polo Lopez, P. Corti, P. Bonomo – SUPSI

Improving energy efficiency in historic heritage, certain­ly preserving the value and the historical characters, is a topic of great importance within the challenge of reno­vation and functional upgrading. The necessity to mod­erate the use of energy is unquestionable and renova­tion measures in construction to advance towards cli­mate-neutral energy generation are supported by all countries.
The group “BIPV in dialogue with history” is a collection of the historical buildings on which a BIPV system was installed, from the ‘90s up to now. This permits the analysis a category of buildings that many architects are afraid to approach considering the high restrictions associated with these contexts. Click here to download BIPV in dialogue with history.

How Can Scientific Literature Support Decision-Making in the Renovation of Historic Buildings? An Evidence-Based Approach for Improving the Performance of Walls

V. Marincioni, V. Gori, E.J. de Place Hansen, D. Herrera-Avellanosa, S. Mauri, E. Giancola, A. Egusquiza, A. Buda, E. Leonardi, A. Rieser

Buildings of heritage significance due to their historical, architectural, or cultural value, here called historic buildings, constitute a large proportion of the building stock in many countries around the world. Improving the performance of such buildings is necessary to lower the carbon emissions of the stock, which generates around 40% of the overall emissions worldwide. In historic buildings, it is estimated that heat loss through external walls contributes significantly to the overall energy consumption, and is associated with poor thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Measures to improve the performance of walls of historic buildings require a balance between energy performance, indoor environmental quality, heritage significance, and technical compatibility. Appropriate wall measures are available, but the correct selection and implementation require an integrated process throughout assessment (planning), design, construction, and use. Despite the available knowledge, decision-makers often have limited access to robust information on tested retrofit measures, hindering the implementation of deep renovation. This paper provides an evidence-based approach on the steps required during assessment, design, and construction, and after retrofitting through a literature review. Moreover, it provides a review of possible measures for wall retrofit within the deep renovation of historic buildings, including their advantages and disadvantages and the required considerations based on context. 

Integration of Energy-Efficient Ventilation Systems in Historic Buildings—Review and Proposal of a Systematic Intervention Approach

A. Rieser, R. Pfluger, A. Troi, D. Herrera-Avellanosa, K.E. Thomsen, J. Rose, Z.D. Arsan, G.G. Akkurt, G. Kopeinig, G. Guyot, D.Chung 

Historic building restoration and renovation requires sensitivity to the cultural heritage, historic value, and sustainability (i.e., building physics, energy efficiency, and comfort) goals of the project. Energy-efficient ventilation such as demand-controlled ventilation and heat recovery ventilation can contribute to the aforementioned goals, if ventilation concepts and airflow distribution are planned and realized in a minimally invasive way. Compared to new buildings, the building physics of historic buildings are more complicated in terms of hygrothermal performance. In particular, if internal insulation is applied, dehumidification is needed for robust and risk-free future use, while maintaining the building’s cultural value. As each ventilation system has to be chosen and adapted individually to the specific building, the selection of the appropriate system type is not an easy task. For this reason, there is a need for a scientifically valid, systematic approach to pair appropriate ventilation system and airflow distribution solutions with historical buildings. This paper provides an overview of the interrelationships between heritage conservation and the need for ventilation in energy-efficient buildings, regarding building physics and indoor environmental quality. Furthermore, a systematic approach based on assessment criteria in terms of heritage significance of the building, building physics (hygrothermal performance), and building services (energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and comfort rating) according to the standard EN 16883:2017 are applied.

Conservation-Compatible Retrofit Solutions in Historic Buildings: An Integrated Approach

A. Buda, E.J. de Place Hansen, A. Rieser, E. Giancola, V.N. Pracchia, S. Mauri, V. Marincioni, V. Gori, K. Fouseki, C.S. Polo López, A. Lo Faro, A. Eguisquiza,  F. Haas, E. Leonardi, D. Herrera-Avellanosa

Historic, listed, or unlisted, buildings account for 30% of the European building stock. Since they are complex systems of cultural, architectural, and identity value, they need particular attention to ensure that they are preserved, used, and managed over time in a sustainable way. This implies a demand for retrofit solutions able to improve indoor thermal conditions while reducing the use of energy sources and preserving the heritage significance. Often, however, the choice and implementation of retrofit solutions in historic buildings is limited by socio-technical barriers (regulations, lack of knowledge on the hygrothermal behaviour of built heritage, economic viability, etc.). This paper presents the approach devised in the IEA-SHC Task 59 project (Renovating Historic Buildings Towards Zero Energy) to support decision makers in selecting retrofit solutions, in accordance with the provision of the EN 16883:2017 standard. In particular, the method followed by the project partners to gather and assess compatible solutions for historic buildings retrofitting is presented. It focuses on best practices for walls, windows, HVAC systems, and solar technologies. This work demonstrates that well-balanced retrofit solutions can exist and can be evaluated case-by-case through detailed assessment criteria. As a main result, the paper encourages decision makers to opt for tailored energy retrofit to solve the conflict between conservation and energy performance requirements.

IEA - SHC Task 59 Events:

Building Integrated Photovoltaics - Status Report 2020, online – 28 January 2021
On January 28th SUPSI organised a webinar to present the BIPV Status Report 2020. The BIPV Status Report 2020, developed by SUPSI and Becquerel Institute, aims to provide a practical handbook to all stakeholders of the BIPV development process, providing insights on the topic from the different perspectives specific to each actor.

Aberdeen RIAS lecture series, online – January - March 2021
Presented by HES, this lecture series has been concluded very successfully. Aimed at architects particularly in Aberdeen, Scotland, it provided CPD opportunities about the refurbishment of historic buildings. Topics included climate change adaptions, hygrothermal matters and building regulation compliance. In total, four sessions have happened with around 50 attendees each. Have a look at the recording of the session 'General Principles and Thermal Upgrades in Traditional Buildings'.

Glasgow RIAS lecture series, online – March – April 2021
Still ongoing, this is a lecture series given by HES aimed at architects in Glasgow, Scotland, providing CPD about energy efficiency and climate change adaptations. The videos are available via the Glasgow RIAS website. A last lecture is still outstanding.

Keep in touch #HistoricNZEB


We would like to keep our subscribers up to date on events concerning the energy performance of historic buildings and their energy-related renovations. If you know of any events, please email us. We would love to hear from you!
Please forward this free newsletter to those of your colleagues who might be interested in subscribing to our newsletter. You can find more information about the project and its current activities on our project website and on Twitter and now LinkedIn. You can also follow #Task59.


Project particulars

Renovating Historic Buildings Towards Zero Energy (HistoricNZEB) is a project for the International Energy Agency, as Task 59 and Annex 76 of the agency’s Solar Heating & Cooling Programme and Energy in Buildings & Communities Programme respectively.

The project’s full title is: Deep Renovation of Historic Buildings Towards Lowest Possible Energy Demand and CO2 Emissions (NZEB). The abbreviation in the title stands for Net Zero Energy Building.

The project is led by EURAC Research, a research organisation in Bolzano / Bozen, Italy. The project coordinator, Ms. Alexandra Troi, Vice Head of EURAC’s Institute for Renewable Energy, can be contacted by email at:

This newsletter is coordinated by Historic Environment Scotland, a public body of the Scottish Government.
Copyright © 2020 The Project Partners of Deep Renovation of Historic Buildings Towards Lowest Possible Energy Demand and CO2 Emissions (NZEB), except for the imagery, which is copyrighted as stated

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HNZEB · c/o Historic Environment Scotland · Longmore House, Salisbury Place · Edinburgh, Scotland EH91SH · United Kingdom

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