This is why you need to retrofit historical buildings with Casambi

Wireless lighting control is great for heritage buildings because it allows for flexible and non-invasive installation, preserving the architectural integrity and historical significance of the structure. Lighting Designer, Karla Martin, explains how Casambi can support sustainability efforts and generate energy savings, without ever compromising on ambiance and drama.

According to the European Commission, one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the construction industry, which is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. Global efforts have been made to design new net-zero energy buildings (nZEBs) and to increase the energy efficiency of existing buildings in order to counteract the climate changes brought on by GHG emissions that can affect outdoor air thermal conditions and increase air pollutant levels in urban areas. These factors have increased the focus of researchers on the topic of reducing energy consumption in buildings. 

A significant portion of the historical buildings that make up Europe’s built heritage has a significant capacity for energy savings. Social policy is typically opposed to energy retrofits because it is concerned about damaging archaeological or cultural sites. Contrarily, there are a variety of approaches to energy efficiency that may be used with historic structures while also retaining the region’s architectural constraints.

Moreover, the renovation of existing buildings has the potential to lead to significant energy savings, possibly reducing the EU’s total energy consumption by 5-6% and lowering CO2 emissions by about 5%. New buildings today consume only half as much as typical buildings from the 1980s.[1]

The very first protocol for ‘GBC Historic Buildings’ was drafted as the world’s first energy-environmental assessment system that can bridge the gap between energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and the conservation of historically and culturally valuable buildings. The study’s findings indicated that energy retrofits might cut the building’s principal energy usage by 20%.

Improving the energy performance of historic buildings will also improve internal comfort conditions, reduce the energy demand, and with that the risk of fuel poverty. Providing users with today’s expected standards of comfort is a crucial requirement to ensure the continued use of historic buildings over time, and with that their conservation and endurance.

The main objectives of a good internal lighting scheme are:

Historical buildings are seeking to create an interesting and visually appealing experience. It is here that lighting plays an important role: a good and correct lighting design will exalt the project, and enhance the intricate details, all while simultaneously protecting the interior and details from light damage.

Casambi’s technology can play a key role in lighting heritage sites. We offer a wireless lighting control system that provides lighting designers and manufacturers the ability to wirelessly link devices together – via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) – enabling the creation of customizable smart lighting networks that are configured and controlled using the Casambi App.  This solution offers so much more than simply the ability to turn lights on/off, or to dim them (for the full list of capabilities, check out our whitepaper and design guide for art and heritage projects).

To date, Casambi has been specified in over 150,000 projects worldwide, from new fit-outs to retrofits, helping and contributing to energy savings and sustainability without ever compromising on ambiance and drama.

The Royal Academy of Arts

When the AV team at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, UK, decided they wanted to upgrade their lighting stock to a more efficient and longer-lasting solution, with more flexible and sophisticated controls, Palco LED spotlights by iGuzzini, eldoLED drivers and lighting controls by Casambi were selected.  

Casambi provided the Royal Academy with Bluetooth mesh technology that’s embedded inside every light fitting. In combination with the Casambi App, we provided them with a frustration-free lighting controls solution, and the most robust technology available for this type of application and this type of building.

‘The [wireless] control system allows us to walk into a space with an exhibition manager who can point to a picture and say ‘we want that one brighter’ and we can do it from the ground in seconds. Whereas before, we’d have to pull lots of equipment in, which caused a lot of hassle’ says Dan Gunning, AV Exhibitions Manager at the Royal Academy.   

Domus Aurea

Another successful case is the Domus Aurea, called the most extravagant construction in the history of Rome. A new entrance kiosk and pedestrian walkway by Stefano Boeri Architetti now allows unprecedented access to the 2000-year-old palace’s subterranean rooms – each illuminated by ERCO with specially tailored solutions. Since the lighting scheme had to use the locations of the existing, outdated lighting system and could not interfere with the ancient structures,  IP65 exterior-rated, corrosion-resistant projectors with a wireless lighting control solution were installed.

For conservation reasons, light levels are kept low, allowing the eyes of visitors to adapt as they move through the ancient rooms. In certain spots, sensors activate fittings to glow into life in succession – enhancing the overall experience for visitors without compromising the delicate heritage features.

For more information and inspiration for your next project, please visit our Specification Area, where we regularly upload downloadable files and project examples – with different retrofit options for all applications from office, retail, outdoor, to cultural spaces.

[1] Citation:Battista, G.; de LietoVollaro, E.; Ocło  ́n, P.; de Lieto Vollaro,R. Retrofit Analysis of a HistoricalBuilding in an ArchitecturalConstrained Area: A Case Study inRome, Italy.Appl. Sci.2022,12, 12305.