Towards NET-Zero

Tackling our carbon emissions is going to become a key challenge for every homeowner in the years or head. Existing homes have been identified as a target area. A mix of incentives and penalties will make us think about our impact on the environment in new ways. We will need to change the way we insulate and heat our homes.

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Retrofit and heat loss in traditional properties

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Upgrading a home is not straightforward. There are two major hurdles;

  • It can cause a lot of disruption. Most upgrading work is done just after a house is purchased. Once we have settled in and got the house the way we want it there is an understandable reluctance to carry out any major work.
  • It can be difficult to see the benefits, once the work has been done and the house put back in order, there is no visual difference. There is nothing to show for all the investment in time, effort and money.

The great think about the cold weather, is that you can see straight away, which houses are performing better. The houses with more snow on the roof are warmer and cheaper to heat. Those where the snow has melted are leaking heat and money!

Another challenge for property owners is the lack of reliable information on how to upgrade.

There are plenty of organisations offering assessments and some of these are a required as a first step towards funding. These organisations are supported by government funding and intended to be an independent and reliable source of information. Unfortunately, some of these assessments are not carried out by experts, are overly simplistic and based on generic solutions. Each property is unique and these types of assessment come forward with recommendations that can be entirely inappropriate for the property.

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Infrared thermographic assessment of heat loss for retrofit

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In a recent example, we examined a property where one of these assessments had been carried out and we were surprised and disappointed by the report findings. The report was based on statistical data that had little relevance to the property. Having carried out our own site measurements and calculations we identified a number of fundamental errors in the report’s conclusions, which if acted upon would have fallen far short of the potential benefits that could have been achieved.

There are more serious consequences that could arise.  Peoples health can be impacted when insulation is installed without a proper understanding of individual property, the ventilation needs and the potential condensation risks.

If we are serious about tackling climate change, we need accurate data collection which is combine with intelligent solutions that address the challenges of each individual property. Without this, the country will end up spending a lot of money, but will not achieve the environmental outcomes, we could damage properties resulting in costly remedial work and end up with health impacts that put pressure on the NHS.

Quick, cheap and easy solutions maybe appear tempting on the surface but are rarely the right solutions.

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MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland. 

If you need independent advice give us a call ?