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Climate Control Systems Design and Climate Change

By Ernest A. Conrad

The Past

Over the last twenty-five years of designing climate control systems for all sizes and types of facilities situated in both the northern and the southern climates of the United States, I have noted that no specific design criteria relating to temperature or relative humidity changes have been identified by the various engineering standards agencies—such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)—instructing designers to adjust their designs to address the impacts of climate change. Even so, the same agencies have been changing their design strategies dramatically to focus on all of the sustainability ele- ments, especially those of energy conservation. Why? The ASHRAE published design weather data show no change in weather conditions over a thirty-year period, yet we are being told to conserve. It appears that ASHRAE fears the potential of climate change. The elimination of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants is an example. To the U.S. Green Building Council, the answer is obvious. They fear the changes occurring as a result of climate change; these are ice caps receding and air pollution levels spiraling upward. This paper explores a question—What if a 1ºC global temperature increase should occur? How would that increase affect the roles of those of us working in the profession of preservation?

It’s Always Been Preservation

In over twenty-five years of designing climate control systems for the preservation of collec- tions and historic buildings, I have seen that our basic rules of the road have never changed. The rules have been to preserve our heritage through a balance of protecting the fabric of the historic building as well as the collections it holds with the comfort needs of its occupants. The New Orleans Charter for Joint Preservation of Historic Structures and Artifacts (formulated in 1990–91) was created to promote this philosophy. And even before that, the secretary of the

Conrad Climate Control Systems Design and Climate Change Contribution to the Experts’ Roundtable on Sustainable Climate Management Strategies, held in April 2007, in Tenerife, Spain

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