Technologies for old buildings and monuments

A facelift for old buildings – Energy-efficient renovations and conservation of historic monuments

Cosy temperatures all the year round together with maximum energy efficiency – amenities which are a matter of course for new buildings can present a huge challenge for older, historic listed buildings. There is no standard solution for existing properties; instead, all measures must be considered in the overall context. Inappropriate measures can do more harm than good if the work is not individually adapted to suit the building. Nonetheless, old buildings which have been renovated in an energy-efficient manner are more sustainable, ecologically speaking, than new buildings. Historic buildings are also witnesses of our past and help to determine the countenance of our cities. It is the task of science, the construction industry, craftsmen and monument preservation organisations to preserve them and to help to ensure that people enjoy spending time in them.

The Fraunhofer Center for Conservation and Energy Performance of Historic Buildings Benediktbeuern

Building physicists and monument conservators are developing solutions for improved preservation and energy-oriented refurbishment of historic buildings.

Opening on 17 /18 November 2016

Auszeichnung des Fraunhofer-Zentrums Benediktbeuern im Bundeswettbewerb »Deutschland – Land der Ideen«

Katharina Roth (Land of Ideas), Christoph Griesser (Deutsche Bank), Christine Milch, Prof. Dr. Klaus Sedlbauer and Prof. Dr. Ralf Kilian (all Fraunhofer IBP), Prof. Dr. Alfred Gossner (Executive Vice President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft), Prof. Dr. Gunnar Grün (Fraunhofer IBP) and Pater Reinhard Gesing (Director Salsianer Don Boscos).

Together with the Fraunhofer Information Center for Planning and Building IRB, the scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP have decided to establish a contact point for all questions relating to the subject of energy-efficient renovation of historic buildings and monument preservation. After ten years of intensive work and research supported by public funding and partners from industry, the day has finally come: the Fraunhofer Center for Conservation and Energy Performance of Historic Buildings in Benediktbeuern was opened on 17 and 18 November 2016. At the same time the institute was awarded a prize in the competition “Germany – Land of Ideas” as one of the 100 best projects in line with the slogan “Neighbourhood creates Innovation”.

Research, Demonstration, Knowledge

The Fraunhofer Center demonstrates exemplary ways in which existing properties can be renovated effectively in a sensible and energy-efficient way and how listed historic monuments can be retained, based on the four pillars of research, demonstration, knowledge gathering and knowledge transfer. The topics cover the fields of energy efficiency, economy, ecology and the durability of renovation measures as well as the development of new and innovative materials and technologies, the use of renewable energy in the building stock and energy efficiency in the urban building context.

The Center fills a gap in the field of renovation of old properties and preservation of historic monuments. In the opinion of Prof. Dr. Klaus Sedlbauer, the head of the Institute at the Fraunhofer IBP: “It is our aim to link together in the best possible manner research, the demonstration of possible solutions, the gathering of knowledge in the field of energy-efficient renovations and its dissemination in a manner appropriate to the historic monuments, as well as explaining these aspects in a manner which the public can comprehend. Because of the global challenges and the stock of buildings in need of energy-efficient renovation, an establishment in the form of a transparent construction site that can serve as a model is urgently needed”.

Cooperation partners

Together with cooperation partners from the building industry, here it is possible to study and optimise innovative materials and/or product combinations and techniques directly on the building. All research projects relating to the different questions and materials are accompanied, investigated and subsequently evaluated by the Fraunhofer IBP using measurement technology.

“What we are aiming to do here in the Alte Schäfflerei is to show all the various aspects of monument preservation with regard to historic buildings. This starts with protecting the façade, from the renovation of damp masonry foundations and the preservation of historic windows to questions of domestic engineering and what sort of long-term maintenance and care are necessary. Here we are making important progress in the further development and establishment of modern methods relating to energy-efficient renovation of historic buildings,”  observes Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Restaurator Univ. Ralf Kilian, who is coordinating the research work at the Fraunhofer IBP.

Exchange and networking

Exchange and interdisciplinary work with partners within the network is a top priority for all activities. “In the Old Smithy, the former caretaker’s premises, we have created a workshop in which our industrial partners have an opportunity to demonstrate their work or carry out training courses for craftsmen. On the upper floor there are rooms for seminars and public information events. These are aimed not only at scientists but also at craftsmen, building contractors and interested individuals. Young people are a particular concern; in future we plan to organise events specifically for them,” explains Christine Milch, the coordinator of the Center.

The energy-efficient renovation of the Alte Schäfflerei in line with its status as a historic monument

In 2010 the contract for the use of the Alte Schäfflerei was signed between the Abbey of Benediktbeuern and the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP. It was during that same year that the inter-disciplinary research project for the renovation of the historic building was inaugurated. During the six-year duration of the project the Alte Schäfflerei was renovated in line with its status as a historic monument and in an energy-efficient manner. The various building procedures were presented in a sort of living, transparent building site. One of the most complicated tasks was the renovation of the roof timbering with its elaborate supporting hanging truss. It was possible to retain 95 percent of the historic old wood and some of the old roof tiles; the new tiles were fired in line with historic practice.

For the part of the project relating to the interior insulation the scientists mounted ten different insulating materials which are very thin but which provide very good heat insulation, or which were made from renewable or recycled materials, on the walls of the upper floor, which measures over 200 square meters. The insulation measures were accompanied by measurements and mathematical investigations in order to explore the advantages and disadvantages of the different systems. In a historic building like the Alte Schäfflerei the scientists consider it particularly important that it should be possible to reverse all measures so that the valuable historic building substance can be retained. For this reason the insulation can be easily removed again without damage to the plasterwork and masonry.

The location in the Abbey of Benediktbeuern as a historic site and listed monument is very appropriate for the Fraunhofer Center as a place for encounters and knowledge transfer. Interested parties will find a visit there very rewarding.

The Abbey of Benediktbeuern

The Abbey of Benediktbeuern is one of the oldest monasteries in Upper Bavaria. Its foundation can be traced back to the eighth century. After the secularisation Joseph von Utzschneider purchased the abbey site in 1805 and moved his Optical Institute to this location. It was at the Abbey of Benediktbeuern that Joseph von Fraunhofer, his most important assistant, first developed striation-free glass for optical measuring instruments amongst other things, as well as discovering the Fraunhofer lines in the solar spectrum. Since 1930 the Salesians of Don Bosco have been the owners of the monastery.

Alte Schäfflerei

The “Alte Schäfflerei” forms part of what was once the craftsmen’s area of the Abbey of Benediktbeuern. It dates from the second half of the eighteenth century. The building with its Baroque hipped roof and supporting hanging truss construction is a protected monument. For many decades after the building was completed in 1760, the barrels for the abbey brewery were manufactured here. After the Second World War refugee families moved into the rooms on the upper floor and continued to live here until well into the 1950s. Most recently the ground floor was use to accommodate a smithy and the caretaker’s premises for the Abbey, until the Fraunhofer IBP moved here with the Fraunhofer Center for Conservation and Energy Performance of Historic Buildings in July 2010.

Contact Press / Media

Prof. Dr. Ralf Kilian

Research Coordinator

Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP
Fraunhoferstr. 10
83626 Valley, Germany

Phone +49 8024 643-285

Fax +49 8024 643-366

Contact Press / Media

Christine  Milch

Project Coordinator Fraunhofer Center Benediktbeuern

Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP
Fraunhoferstr. 10
83626  Valley, Germany

Phone +49 8024 643-252

Fax +49 8024 643-366

Contact Press / Media

Volker Schweizer

Fraunhofer Information Center for Planning and Building IRB
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart, Germany

Phone +49 711 970-2520