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SPAB announces old buildings and energy efficiency report

SPAB is holding a one-day event covering findings and research on energy efficiency and the performance of old and traditionally constructed buildings.

The one day event in Birmingham, organised by the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings), will present the latest research on the energy efficiency and the performance of old and traditionally built properties and look at what some implications of the Green Deal might be for such buildings.

In a statement the association said: “This is essential information for building professionals, owners and contractors seeking up-to-date information and facts about upgrading a traditional property.

“The event coincides with the first day of Retro Expo a new exhibition and conference in Birmingham focusing on delivering energy efficient refurbishment and retrofit of domestic commercial buildings in the UK.

“The initial report, written for The SPAB by Dr Caroline Rye, suggested that conventional industry practices were struggling to accurately represent the thermal performance of traditionally built walls.

“Dr Rye compared measured in-situ U-values (the unit used to describe the rate of heat  loss through a wall/roof/floor etc) of various traditional-built walls against the U-values calculated for these walls using standards based, class-leading software.

“Importantly, a theoretical value obtained from the U-value calculations is used as the base-line for assessing the thermal performance of different types of constructions.

“Even taking into account a possible error margin of up to 10 per cent, SPAB’s findings showed that old buildings were not as energy inefficient as the building industry has generally understood them to be.

“While we recognise that the energy efficiency of all buildings must be improved, the misapprehension of the degree of heat loss through traditionally built walls could have negative consequences for historic buildings.

“Calculated theoretical U-values (suggesting a poorer performance) could lead owners and professionals to adopt inappropriate energy-saving interventions that may be less effective than predicted, and also potentially harmful to the fabric of a building and to the well-being of its inhabitants.”