Historic Scotland Refurbishment Case Studies: Five Edinburgh Tenement Flats – Wall and window upgrades

Historic Scotland Refurbishment Case Studies: Five Edinburgh Tenement Flats – Wall and window upgrades

This case study is the first in a new Historic Scotland publication series: Refurbishment Case Studies. This series presents examples of refurbishment projects of pre-1919 buildings designed to improve their energy efficiency. The series will cover a range of building types including traditional cottages and tenements, and public buildings such as libraries or schools. Most, but not all, of the buildings are of traditional construction, and some are listed.

The case studies are not limited to energy-efficiency measures alone, but will contribute to a wider discussion about sustainability; together with indoor environmental quality, life cycle assessment and skills issues. Each case study will present one building, or a collection of buildings, which have been recently upgraded with support from Historic Scotland. The refurbishments typically incorporate experimental, adapted or non-standard materials, and novel upgrade measures. The impact of these interventions on the buildings’ performance and occupants’ comfort will be discussed. The aim is to showcase a variety of upgrade options which, although not always directly transferable to other projects, can provide inspiration for developing creative upgrade measures suitable for the refurbishment of the existing building stock. Sustainable measures will not only be physically compatible with the existing building fabric (e.g. by not adversely affecting the existing building physics), but should also allow the retention of the existing fabric (e.g. lime plaster on lath finishes) for reasons of both building conservation and waste reduction.

This first Refurbishment Case Study presents an energy-efficiency upgrade project carried out in tenement flats owned and managed by Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association. The properties are Category ‘B’ listed buildings of traditional construction, which have received internal solid wall insulation and window upgrades. The latter is given a particular focus in this case study, not only because the ratio of external wall to window area means that upgrading windows is important for this building type, but also because improvement to the acoustic performance, one of many factors impacting on the indoor environmental quality, is of importance in these particular properties. With the trial complete, some techniques will be developed further, especially the use of blown materials behind existing linings, as well as other solutions in areas where less original internal fabric is extant. These reservations aside, the benefits to the tenants have been considerable and this refurbishment project was the winner in the refurbishment category for the fifth Carbon Trust Low Carbon Building Awards in March 2012. Published in 2012.

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