The Charles Gates Dawes House, which now is the home of the Evanston History Center, an archive and museum in Evanston, Illinois, was built in 1894 and has been a National Historic Landmark since 1976. Albeit a historic gem, this lakefront mansion lacked air conditioning and humidity control, and sorely needed better insulation and an upgrade to its electrical system. To address these issues, a building restoration was launched in 2011 with the aim of maximizing the comfort of staff and visitors, as well as preserving antique furniture, costumes, portraits, manuscripts, and other treasures on exhibit and in storage.
Major Players: AltusWorks, Architectural Consulting Engineers (ACE), Bulley & Andrews , Great Lakes Geothermal
Green Upgrade Details
The Dawes House makeover, completed in 2013, consisted of installing a new air distribution system, replacing the electrical system, adding attic and piping insulation, and removing an oversized, outmoded boiler in favor of a smaller and far more energy-efficient one. During the renovation, the Center aimed to avoid interfering with the elegantly furnished, oak-paneled rooms that remain much as they stood in the first half of the 20th century when Charles Dawes and his family lived there.
The centerpiece of the project was a new geothermal heating and cooling system. The design team used ingenuity to conceal the ductwork, pipes, and vents, placing the majority of geothermal equipment (such as heat pumps) in out-of-the-way places in the basement and third floor, thereby supplying temperature and humidity-controlled air to the first and second floor, respectively. Where possible, grillwork for the new ventilation system was created to match the existing ornate air vents. Sixteen 300-foot wells drilled into the ground outside were connected via underground piping to the building. As in all geothermal systems, these wells are hidden from view under the Center's east lawn. Today, thanks to the stable temperature of the earth, building occupants remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In the winter, the geothermal heating is supplemented by the house's original radiant heat when necessary.