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Historical buildings audited for energy efficiency



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An energy auditing LRCC class gathers around the kitchen in the Grange to assess their observations and air pressure measures taken throughout the building, and then decides how to tackle these finds. Lauren Tiner. (click for larger version)
March 17, 2010
The historical Rowe House and the Grange, maintained by the Thompson-Ames Historical Society, are two of the 50 volunteer buildings that have recently received a visit from a Lakes Region Community College energy auditor class.

Karen Landry of the Historical Society offered up both historical buildings for energy efficiency inspection, which in turn helped students from LRCC acquire credit for their 45-hour, BPI energy auditor course. This course will help students apply their trade to newly constructed buildings, and existing buildings, to make them more energy efficient.

Although energy auditing is not yet required, students said a lot of federal money has gone toward energy efficiency and that these audits are now being stressed more than ever, which is why many felt compelled to take the course. Energy auditing is usually suggested when making any changes to an existing building, or when prepping for the construction of a building for proper heating, air flow, and so on.

Instructor Andy Duncan, along with Historical Society member Fred Kacprzynski, walked through the Grange downtown in Gilford last week with tools such as an infra-red thermal imaging camera, which shows images where less insulation or more "leakage" of air is present in the walls, along with a metro-meter, a smoke puffer, and a blower door, installed in the doorway of the Grange.

Kacprzynski said the LRCC class checked the furnace and the airflow in the building, recommended how to heighten the building's safety, and gave fuel saving recommendations.

"This is an old building," said Kacpresynski. "There have been some good changes made, and some bad ones that we need to counteract. We found that the furnace is fine in terms of carbon monoxide."

Kacpresynski said the Historical Society was given a few reasonable recommendations on proper cleaning to avoid built up dirt and dust in the building for a cleaner airflow, and a follow up on furnace filter clean-ups.

Duncan said most of their findings were "easy fixes," and that minor heat leakage problems were found when circulating air through the building with the blower door, and using the thermal imaging camera.

He said his class was able to detect where some of these leaks were due to a lack of proper insulation is some areas by using the fan which circulates cold air, by running their hands against the wall, and then using the camera to confirm their findings with more accuracy. He said the fan allows for air movement, and a measure of interior and exterior pressure.

Duncan said a lot of warm air is currently escaping through chimney openings, and that these leakage areas can be properly sealed with materials such as a proper fiberglass, or foam board.

Duncan suggested that the Historical Society consider assessing their "crawl space" as well in the Grange, where a musty scent when using the fan may have attributed to dirt. He said using a plastic within the crawl space can help prevent moisture from evaporating out of the soil, and causing further moisture problems.

Other than these minor suggestions and quick fixes recommended to the Historical Society to maintain safety and energy efficiency, no major problems or threatening health risks were found.

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