Johanna Leissner: How to use climate models and building simulation to assess the impact of climate change on historic buildings and art collections

Institut für Konservierung und Restaurierung 

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Climate change is one of the most important global challenges of our time. Although many studies have been conducted to explore its impact on e.g. biodiversity and agriculture, little is known as to whether and to what extent climate change influences cultural heritage assets.
Against this background, the EU-funded "Climate for Culture" project (2009-2014) has investigated the potential impact of changing climate conditions on historic buildings and the collections they contain as well as on the future energy demand in Europe and the Mediterranean. Art objects are often very sensitive to variations in humidity and temperature. The main innovation was to use a combination of simulation and modelling tools to predict more accurately the influence of changing outdoor climate on the indoor and microclimate in historic buildings until 2100. Further, future energy demand for climatisation of historic buildings was calculated. By using an automated procedure an assessment of the damage potential in various climate zones was performed. In order to assess the damage potential of these future climatic conditions, a set of damage functions has been applied to four categories of objects (sculptures, panel paintings, furniture and paper manuscripts). Furthermore, sensitive glass sensors developed within the EU project AMECP (1993-1996) have been used in “Climate for Culture” to assess the corrosive damage potential of current outdoor and indoor climates at the case study sites. Glass sensors act in an integrating way as dosimeters, i.e. they monitor the combined corrosive effects (in the present case, of temperature and humidity) on a longer time scale as well as daily fluctuations. 
 
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