Renovation and preservation
Together, Fraunhofer IBP and its Working Group on Preservation of Historic Monuments and Preventive Conservation run the Fraunhofer Center for the Energy-Saving Renovation of Old Buildings and the Preservation of Monuments, which is located in Benediktbeuern Abbey. The aim of the center is to develop new methods and techniques for the renovation of historic buildings, but also to showcase existing technologies and demonstrate their effectiveness.
In June 2012, a research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology was launched to investigate reversible interior insulation for old buildings and historic monuments. Researchers from the Indoor Environments, Hygrothermics and Life Cycle Engineering departments are working together in Benediktbeuern using an interdisciplinary approach, under the leadership of the Preservation of Historic Monuments and Preventive Conservation Working Group.
The research project focuses both on innovative solutions for interior insulation in existing buildings and the further development of existing products for the preservation of historic monuments, with reversibility being one of primary considerations the researchers must take into account. Interior surfaces in historic buildings have often accrued multiple layers of colored paint over the years – colorful coatings that in some cases served an ornamental purpose. These layers are material evidence of the past and shed light on the prevailing tastes of each period. When installing insulation panels, workers usually cover these painted surfaces with adhesives that pull off and destroy this historic evidence when the panels are later removed.
For this reason, the researchers are looking to develop reversible solutions for installing interior insulation that are simple to apply and cause as little damage to the valuable historic building materials as possible.
The team plans to test a variety of innovative systems that have strong insulating properties despite being very thin, and will also be trialing materials made from renewable resources. They intend to install a total of ten different insulation systems in the Fraunhofer Center in Benediktbeuern in order to measure their effectiveness. Each system will cover a section of wall roughly ten meters square and include a window opening so the scientists can examine any potential issues with the interior surface of the window casing and where the window meets the wall.
All the materials and systems included in the research project will be tested for their suitability, effectiveness and durability in old or historic buildings, both in advance – using WUFI® simulation software – and in situ. Scientists are most interested to see how energy efficient, mold resistant and free of damage the systems are, as these are essential criteria when it comes to gaining approval for use in listed buildings and old structures deemed worthy of protection.