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Historic Scotland addresses energy efficiency in traditional buildings

25 November 2008

Simple and inexpensive measures can make your home more energy efficient, a conference will hear tomorrow (Wednesday, 26 November) at The Hub in Edinburgh.

Historic Scotland-lead research will show that traditional buildings are much maligned in their energy efficiency performance, and can make a positive difference to combating climate change on a range of fronts.

David Mitchell, director of the Technical Conservation Group at Historic Scotland who has organised the conference, said: “There is a perception that older buildings perform poorly in  terms of energy efficiency. This over simplification often stems from a lack of knowledge on how traditional buildings work. However, tomorrow research will be presented which shows how simple measures can improve performance of traditional buildings rather than expensive and less sustainable solutions commonly marketed.

“The seminar will hear about our research with a range of partners to accumulate a baseline of information which has largely been missing and often has put traditional buildings at a disadvantage. From here, Historic Scotland, with our partners, will continue our technical research to provide advice on technically sound and sensitive improvements which will, ultimately, help to mitigate the effects of climate change in a constructive way.”

The conference,  the first of it’s kind to be held in Scotland, is expected to attract over 250 delegates from across Europe including planners and architects, and is part of Historic Scotland’s ongoing work in promoting a sound technical understanding of traditional buildings.

The programme will include discussions on technical issues, future research projects and  the release of research findings from The Performance of traditional windows and practice improvements – a joint project between HS and Glasgow Caledonian University which included tests being conducted within a housing cooperative to demonstrate that the measures were not disruptive or hard to live with.

Other topics to be discussed from key speakers in the industry include thermal performance of traditional masonry walls; thermal mass and ventilation; advice on how to improving traditional building performance; wider considerations in energy efficiency and the existing housing stock, and consent and planning issues.

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations


  • Results from the Performance of traditional windows and practice improvements project will be presented tomorrow and include details such as:
    • Use of shutters and blinds will reduce heat loss in a window by 58 per cent, equal to modern requirements. If heavy curtains are used this increases to 62  per cent

    • Secondary glazing will improve performance by 63 per cent, which can rise to 77 per cent is combined with other measures. Double glazed units within timber sashes were also tested, giving an improvement of 55 per cent.

For further information


Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07788 923873
lesley.brown@scotland.gsi.gov.uk