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Task 59 Newsletter Summer 2020

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 Summer 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.

This newsletter gives you an overview of the project’s latest case studies added to the HiBERATLAS platform, our new blog posts, introductions to partners, and updates on past and upcoming events.

On behalf of all the project’s partners and associates, we would like to thank you for subscribing! We now have 74 subscribers and are getting more every day. In these changed times, we hope you have been able to follow our progress and take part in some of the great events online. 


Task 59 Final Conference

The call for abstracts for the conference has been extended to the 15th September 2020!

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 are invited to send their contributions. Further information can be found on the conference website

The deadline for workshop proposals is also still open until the 15th October 2020. These should be submitted by mail to A detailed template for the proposal of workshops can be found in the SBE21 Heritage website.


Latest Cases

The beta version of HiBERATLAS continues to grow. It includes 22 examples and many more are coming soon. Today we are presenting two of the new cases added to the website. Please continue to check back as new projects and feature are added to the platform:

Hof Neuhäusl
University of Innsbruck

The 300-year-old "Hof Neuhäusl" is a prime example of the combination of old building stock and energy efficiency. While retaining its historical appearance, the building was refurbished completely in 2017. The preservation of the façade required the implementation of consistent interior insulation. Inside, the rooms were restructured in order to meet the highest, modern living standards. The revitalisation of the courtyard was awarded with the "Tiroler Sanierungspreis" in 2018.

Holyrood Park Lodge
Historic Environment Scotland

This project was the thermal upgrade and general improvements to a Listed property in Edinburgh dating from 1858. It was a whole house approach where the retention of historic fabric was a priority. Good results have been obtained and an improved energy rating (EPC) has been achieved. In addition, various traditional features have been repaired and reused for the buildings new use.

NEW BLOG POSTS - updated monthly! 

A spatial-based approach for enhancing the energy renovation of historic settlements – Elena Lucchi, Alexandra Troi

In this blog, the challenges facing alpine towns with a low percentage of inhabited buildings are described. The case is made that a baseline study of the energy consumption is vital for energy renovation. Using GIS software, a spatial-based analysis of the town provided important information for individual buildings. This in turn helped to taylor the energy retrofit measures to the buildings. To find out more about the methods used, download the blog about this spatial-based approach.

Sweden launches a new stage of the national research programme on energy efficiency in historic buildings – Tor Broström

The fourth stage of the successful Spara and bevara (“Save and preserve”) has been launched. The previous stages saw investment in more than 40 projects since 2008. This fourth stage includes funded project with topics such as renewable energy, risk assessment, life cycle analysis, indoor climate control and novel insulation materials. To find out more, download the blog from Sweden.


Today we want to introduce two teams from the Politecnico Milano University.

Research Group Cultural Heritage Planned Conservation, Politecnico Milano University

The Politecnico di Milano University was established in 1863 and has approximately 40,000 students and 1,400 professors. The research group Cultural Heritage Planned Conservation has a strong expertise in heritage conservation. The research activities has been related to a wide range of tasks linked to heritage as energy efficiency, diagnostics, material analysis, planned conservation, heritage communication, accessibility, cultural tourism, landscape preservation.

Politecnico di Milano leads the expertise in Cultural Heritage Conservation. Main role is linked to the implementation of EN 16883:2017 Guidelines in Subtask B and to the definition of strategies in Subtask C.

Alessia Buda (pictured on the right), architect and PhD, working on energy efficiency policies for historic buildings in Mediterranean area. Graduated in 2012 in Palermo, she has won two prizes for architectural restoration and has carried out a second-level Professional Master's Programme in sustainable design (InArch 2013). She has been involved in several international conferences and research publications. She is now consultant of public administrations (Sicily Region, Cultural Heritage Ministry). She has the lead of subtask C.2 Strategies and works for the subtask B.

Valeria Pracchi (in the middle), architect and associated professor. She is part of the "Cultural Heritage Planned Conservation" research group coordinated by Prof. Stefano Della Torre. PhD in Project and Technologies for the Development of Cultural Heritage, the research activity has developed through the main areas of relevance of the discipline. In particular, she has explored issues such as energy efficiency in historical built heritage, the process concerning restoration and preventive and planned conservation activities from the start-up phase, with the strategic involvement of the Public Administration and, lastly, the theme of the communication of cultural assets within the context of valorization.

Sara Mauri (pictured on the left),  graduated architect and PhD Student. She has carried out an internship at Soprintendenza Belle Arti e Paesaggio di Milano to work on material and microclimatic aspects of Terragni’s Casa del Fascio in Como, on which she has published two scientific articles. From 2018 she is working in ABC Department on tailor-made solutions for improving energy efficiency in historic buildings and she is teaching assistant.

Research Group Innovative Energy Technologies for Buildings, Politecnico Milano University

The Politecnico di Milano University was established in 1863 and has approximately 40,000 students and 1,400 professors.  The research group on innovative energy technologies for buildings has strong expertise in the research and development of technological components for building integration of renewable energy sources, energy efficient HVAC systems, building components for energy saving, techniques and technologies for energy-efficient and net zero energy buildings and dynamic energy. 

Politecnico di Milano lead the activity related to energy simulations, calibration and validation of historical buildings models. In particular, the goal of the activity is to provide a guideline to define a reliable building model methodology which is able to reduce the gap between simulated and measured data in historic buildings.

Niccolò Aste (pictured on the right), Professor in Building Physics and Delegate for international relationship on Africa. He has been actively engaged in several international research activities related to energy efficiency of the built environment, exploitation of renewable energy sources and their use in building sector and sustainable urban development. Recently, he has been participating in a collaborative project with UN-Habitat: “Promoting Energy Efficiency in Building in East Africa”.

Fabrizio Leonforte (pictured middle right) is a researcher and adjunct Professor. Starting from 2010 he has been actively involved in national and international research programs about solar energy applications, low energy architecture and energy modelling of sustainable buildings. Currently he is leading the activity related to energy simulation of historical buildings of the Task59.

Claudio Del Pero (pictured middle left) is a researcher at the university. Starting from 2006, he has been actively engaged in the research and advisory activities related to energy efficiency of the built environment and the exploitation of renewable energy sources, with reference to PV technology and distributed energy generation. He is also the technical coordinator of the PV Test Facility, where a specific section is dedicated to the outdoor testing of PV and hybrid components.

Harold Huerto (pictured on the left) is architect and PhD candidate at Politecnico di Milano. Starting from 2016 he was involved in the activities related to the environmental monitoring of the Milan Cathedral (Duomo di.Milano) as well as in the energy simulation’s activity of the same building. During the PhD he acquired substantial knowledge on model calibration and validation.


Assessing the impact of climate change on energy retrofit of alpine historic buildings: consequences for the hygrothermal performance

Authors: L. Hao, D. Herrera, A. Troi, M. Petitta, M. Matiu and C. Del Pero 
Climate change will affect future hygrothermal performance of buildings. This could lead to higher risks regarding energy optimization, thermal comfort and historic building conservation depending on the local climate, building construction and retrofit solutions adopted. This paper explores the risks brought by climate change on a typical residential historic building of South Tyrol. The results obtained show that, although the climate warming will reduce the future heating energy demand, an improvement of buildings' energy performance will still be necessary to increase sustainability and ensure their continued use. Natural ventilation would suffice to prevent overheating in the studied location, but a further analysis is needed for warmer alpine regions. Regarding the moisture-related risks for the historic construction, mould growth should be considered when retrofitting a wooden wall and frost damage should be carefully studied in the case of sandstone walls.

Validation of dynamic hygrothermal simulation models for historic buildings: state of the art, research challenges and recommendations

Authors: H.E. Huerto-Cardenas, F. Leonforte, N. Aste, C. Del Pero, G. Evola, V. Constanzo, E. Lucchi 
The proper simulation of the hygrothermal behaviour of historical buildings is a challenging task with several implications regarding the evaluation of indoor thermal comfort and the suitability of retrofit strategies that comply with the conservation of cultural heritage. An inaccurate simulation may lead to inadequate conclusions, which could result in inappropriate and dangerous actions for the preservation of the heritage buildings.

The present work reviewed the main approaches used by researchers for building performance model validation with special reference to historical buildings based on microclimatic parameters, highlighting the main advantages and drawbacks of the different methods reviewed. Finally, recommendations to properly carry out the model validation based on microclimatic parameters have been provided. The collected information may be useful to different subjects (e.g. designers, energy auditors, researchers, conservators, buildings’ owners and policy makers) and can drive suitable and reliable retrofit and maintenance interventions.

Upcoming Publication: Call for papers - Heritage
special issue on ‘Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings’,

Editor: Tor Broström

This Special Issue on energy efficiency in historic buildings addresses the balance between two different aspects of sustainability, i.e., environmental and socio-cultural. On the one hand, amidst growing pressure to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, historic buildings stand for a considerable part of societal energy use that necessitates energy-efficient interventions. On the other hand, the historic building stock is an important cultural and material resource that merits management and preservation for the benefit of present and future generations. Thus, we must find ways to balance the needs of historic building conservation and energy conservation to facilitate the sustainable management of historic buildings. This Special Issue calls for research on a multitude of aspects, with various scientific perspectives, from the natural sciences and engineering to the social sciences and humanities.

For more information about the issue, go to the Heritage special issue website.

FEATURE Video Report: 'Alpine regions protect the environment without damaging heritage'

The ATLAS project aims to explore traditional architecture in order to pave the way for sustainable development of historic structures. 

Recently, Euronews dedicated a report of the "Smart Regions" series to the ATLAS and AlpES project, interviewing the ATLAS project coordinator Franziska Haas and the building owner of a renovated historical building.

Watch the full report “Alpine regions protect the environment without damaging heritage” on the Euronews website.

IEA - SHC Task 59 Related Conferences

ICBMM, Barcelona, Spain: online 24-26 September 2020

The 4th International Conference on Building Materials and Materials Engineering will now be an online conference. The access to ICBMM web platform will be offered to all the registered attendees. The submission is still open and the registration page is available with online attendance registration fee.

Rapid development of modern technology needs the support of new material. New material together with information and energy are known as the three pillars of modern science and technology. The birth of new materials will lead rapid development of related industries and technologies. Architecture is one of the examples.

ICBMM 2020 will focus on research hotspot like building materials, semiconducting materials, organic/polymer materials, nano-materials, composite materials, bio-materials and etc. The conference aims to provide opportunities for the delegates to exchange new ideas and application experiences face to face, to establish business or research relations and to find global partners for future collaboration.

REHABEND 2020, Granada, Spain: online 28 September 2020

The Euro-American Congress REHABEND 2020 on Construction Pathology, Rehabilitation Technology and Heritage Management is now going to be online in September 2020. The event is organized by twenty organizations of ten European and American countries, and it is co-chaired by the University of Cantabria, through its Building Technology R&D Group (GETD-UC), and the University of Granada.

EEHB 2020, Benediktbeuern, Germany: postponed until 06-07 October 2021

EEHB 2020 will take place in Benediktbeuern, Germany. Due to the spread of Covid 19 and the resulting worldwide restrictions we have decided to postpone the 4th International Conference on Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings EEHB2020 in Benediktbeuern until next year. The conference aims to present new research and best practices on a wide range of topics relating to energy efficiency in historic buildings. This year the focus will be on the role digital technologies can play in improving the energy performance of historic buildings, whilst respecting the principles of conservation. You can register on the EEHB2020 registration page.
The 2-day-workshop „Recording historic buildings using digital workflows” will now take place on 4 & 5th October 2021 and the Conference on 6 & 7th October 2021. The registration for workshops and conference will remain open.

EVENT LISTINGS from across the world


Sustainable Renovation in Practice, Zero Waste Scotland Webinar

This event looked at a number of low carbon and circular economy considerations for the building industry and renovation in particular. It also looks at some of the challenges during the renovation process. It included presentations by Zero Waste Scotland as well as Chris Morgan from John Gilbert Architects.
As part of the seminar, the recent publication Sustainable Renovation Guide by the Pebble Trust was introduced. 


HINDSIGHT 2020 in Edmonton, online – 01-07 October 2020

HINDSIGHT 2020, organised by the National Trust for Canada and the Association for Preservation Technologies International (APT) will explore heritage conservation’s disruptive role in a 21st century defined by resource scarcity, climate change and sustainability. In an era seeking heroic solutions, historic preservation provides transformative ideas, highlighting the importance of adaptation, minimal intervention, reversibility and maintainability.

One of the session titles is ‘Adapting Heritage Buildings for Energy and Environmental Quality’, where Lila Angelaka from Historic Environment Scotland will introduce the measures of the HiBERALTAS Case Study mentioned above, Holyrood Park Lodge.

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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