City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Traditional Buildings Can Be Energy Efficient Says Heritage Agency

By edg - Posted on 06 September 2012

New Town Edinburgh

Traditional Scottish buildings should not be seen as draughty old energy hogs, but rather as an asset, an energy efficiency seminar will be told in Edinburgh next week.

Historic Scotland’s one day seminar Energy Efficiency in Traditional Buildings, taking place at Our Dynamic Earth on Tuesday (9am-6pm), will hear that traditional buildings can in many instances be improved with basic and affordable energy efficiency measures.

Many of the 400,000 traditional properties in Scotland, around a fifth of the housing stock, could be brought up to modern standards of energy efficiency says Historic Scotland without destroying the built heritage.

“Traditionally constructed buildings are resilient, adaptable and fully capable of being upgraded to give a much improved thermal performance," says Historic Scotland’s Head of Technical Research, Roger Curtis.

"We have carried out trial programmes on a range of properties in Scotland, and have shown that in many cases, energy efficiency can be improved without a loss of original building fabric, and that sympathetic intervention can enhance appearance."

A new free Historic Scotland publication being launched at the seminar (and available on the agency's web site) will give guidance on basic improvements suitable for a range of traditional buildings.

“The new Historic Scotland publication draws on these trials to show the practical details and resulting thermal benefits of sensitive upgrades,” says Curtis.

Speakers talking about energy efficiency in traditional buildings, include experts from Historic Scotland, CADW – the agency’s Welsh equivalent, the Scottish Government, and the environmental charity and social enterprise Changeworks, are due to address the seminar at Our Dynamic Earth.

The event has also attracted international guests – Patrice Frey from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, USA, and two speakers from Germany, Jan Prahm and Dr Ralf Kilian.

Subjects range from whole-house upgrades and the environmental value of building re-use, to retrofit projects, which refurbish or re-fit existing homes to make them more energy efficient.

Curtis said: “Historic Scotland has helped pioneer retrofit research, and recently won an award from the Carbon Trust for its work on a project in Edinburgh’s South Side. We have also fitted an innovative infra-red heating system at historic Scotstarvit Cottage, in conjunction with The National Trust for Scotland. The benefits of retrofitting are a key element of the new publication, and will form the subject of several talks at the seminar.”

The new Historic Scotland publication, “Fabric improvements for energy efficiency in traditional buildings”, is available free of charge from the agency’s Publications Officer on 0131 668 8638, or can be downloaded free from .

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I imagine that we could learn a thing or two from the architects of older buildings, when electricity wasn't available at the flick of a switch, about energy efficiency.

For example, with food storage using a pantry with outside walls, possibly North facing, that benefits from our naturally colder climate. Would be better than building bigger refrigerators that compete with our centrally heated homes in the middle of winter to keep our food cold.

To think that in 17th and 18th century they even kept ice in the middle of summer: