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Concern | STBA

Concern & action: Use of sympathetic materials

Are materials specified for a measure in sympathy with existing building either aesthetically, in terms of provenance (i.e. locally sourced materials for vernacular buildings) and/or technically in terms of similar fabric performance characteristics (e.g. vapour permeable construction)

Suggested actions

Before Implementation

Buildings rely on the use of materials that are sympathetic to their technical and/or aesthetic characteristics. Research the existing knowledge of the historic origins of materials and develop an understanding of the effect of repair, replacement and additions to these materials including appropriate methods of construction. Understand the performance of the existing materials within the construction with regards to heat and moisture. Understand how the existing fabric behaves in relationship with the general room conditions and how its performance may be altered by the addition of different materials. For example, a fabric element might rely upon a hygroscopic finish to allow evaporation of internally generated vapour and reduce vapour diffusion through the element.

During implementation

Specify materials that retain the existing fabric conditions/qualities in relation with the room and external environment with regards to moisture behaviour.

After implementation

Monitor any changes to fabric materials qualities. For higher risk levels, carry out continuous physical testing conditions within fabric and reporting of results is suggested. As a minimum, carry out occasional visual inspections to check for condensation/mould growth in risk areas. Develop a response and mitigation strategy in place if adverse conditions arise



Tech Paper 6 - Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency in Traditional Buildings (2009)
Halliday, S., (Gaia Research)

Solid Wall Insulation in Scotland: Exploring barriers, solutions and new approaches (2012)

Tech Paper 10 - U-values and Traditional Buildings (2011)
Baker, P.

Warmer Bath: A guide to improving the energy efficiency of traditional homes in the city of Bath (2011)
Bath Preservation Trust & Centre for Sustainable Energy

The Performance of Traditional Buildings: the SPAB Building Performance Survey 2013 (2013)
Rye, C, Scott C & Hubbard, D.

Energy Efficiency And Historic Buildings - Application of Part L of the Building Regulations to historic and traditionally constructed buildings (2011)
English Heritage

Energy Efficiency In Historic Buildings -Secondary glazing for windows (2010)
English Heritage

Improving Energy Efficiency in Traditional Buildings
Historic Scotland

Breathability: The Key to Building Performance (2005)
May, N.

Energy Heritage: A guide to improving energy efficiency in traditional and historic homes (2008)

Guide to building services for historic buildings -Sustainable services for traditional buildings (2002)

A Short Paper on Internal Wall Insulation (2012)
May N

Conversion of Traditional Buildings Part 2 - sections 3 Enviroment & 6 Energy (2007)
Ed. Dennis Urquhart, Historic Scotland

Insulating pitched roofs at rafter level/warm roofs (2012)
English Heritage

Insulating pitched roofs at ceiling level/cold roofs (2012)
English Heritage

Insulating dormer windows (2012)
English Heritage

Early cavity walls (2012)
English Heritage