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Although churches represent a relatively small sub-set of existing buildings, they are particularly difficult to environmentally upgrade: they are large volume spaces, they have very intermittent use, they contain many different kinds of materials and artefacts that are susceptible to even slight changes in temperature and humidity and they are often of great historic significance making interventions  to the physical fabric particularly difficult.

This three year EPSRC funded research project monitored the humidity and temperature in a selection of historic churches in Cambridge. At the same time a risk map was drawn of the different materials used in historic churches and their ideal conditions. This showed that while the current methods for heating these churches often adopted current best practice they still risked damaging the historic fabric and artefacts in these churches, particularly if the churches were heated to modern comfort standards. At the same time surveys were used to measure the levels of comfort of the users. These challenged the idea that churches should necessarily be heated in line with current recomendations. Finally the energy usage of the buildings was measured to establish the efficiency of the various existing heating methods used. 

This research is seen as a pilot study for further research, which applies not only to churches but to all historic hall structures- a particularly common building type that covers large rooms in country houses, barns, dining halls, great halls etc.

Resulting Publications:

M. Makrodimitri, J.W.P.Campbell “Heritage conservation and environmentally sustainable performance of historic structures. Upgrade of heating in listed church buildings” Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Heritage and Sustainable Development – Heritage 2012 
M.Makrodimitri, S. Papavasileiou, J.W.P.Campbell, K.Steemers,. “Heating historic structures. A review of heating systems in historic church buildings and implications related to conservation and comfort. The case of four historic churches in Cambridge.”, Proceedings of Energy Management in Cultural Heritage conference 2011
M. Makrodimitri, J.Campbell, “Sustainability and heritage conservation. Environmental performance of large hall structures. Assessment of thermal comfort in historic churches.” Proceedings of 27th International conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture – PLEA 2011
M.Makrodimitri, J.Campbell, K.Steemers, “Sustainability in the historic built environment. Upgrade of environmental performance of listed structures. The historic churches in the UK.” Proceedings of international scientific conference CISBAT 11