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October 18, 2012, 05:39 PM

SBTA report raises questions and overlooks reuse

By Thornton Kay

London South West, UK - The UK government's Department of Energy and Climate Change commissioned the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (SBTA) to produce a report which reviewed guidance about the energy performance of traditional buildings which has been welcomed by Gregory Barker, minister for energy and climate change. He said,"We are working closely with the STBA to develop the new guidance tool, which will maximise the benefits of retrofit programmes. The Green Deal will pave the way for one of the biggest retrofit programmes in our history, helping to make our buildings more energy efficient and allowing people to save money on their energy bills."

The report, Responsible Retrofit of Traditional Buildings, highlights the paucity of hard fact in government policy on old buildings and advises caution:

The research shows that, for reasons including energy performance, risks to fabric and human health, and heritage and cultural issues, most traditional buildings need to be treated differently from modern buildings in terms of assumed characteristics of building elements, assessment methods, specified solutions and ongoing use, maintenance and monitoring. In comparison with more modern existing buildings this will require different retrofit assessment procedures, different skills (and sometimes materials) in contracting, and different engagement with occupants and owners by retrofit providers.

Of interest to reusers of reclaimed radiators, and possibly antique fireplaces and stoves:
The Convention BR 443 and RdSAP 2009 v.9.91 (Appendix S, issued 2012) documents should not be used in their current form as the basis for estimating the U-values of solid, traditionally built walls. Therefore neither should they be used for whole-stock modelling, individual house modelling, or as the basis for thermal performance estimates given in certificates and other Implicit Guidance for traditional buildings. An adjusted Convention and RdSAP default wall U-values need to be established as soon as possible to facilitate realistic assessments of energy and financial payback in projects where traditional buildings are being retrofitted.

And for dealers in reclaimed bricks and walling stone:
The use of BS 5250:2011 (and the calculations given in BS EN ISO 13788:2002) is insufficient for solid-wall buildings where driven rain and other sources of fabric moisture are present. This makes it inadequate as a means to assess all risks posed by moisture to the building fabric and occupants of traditional buildings. In particular, for all internal wall insulation applications to solid walls, numerical modelling according to BS EN 15026:2007 should be used, with substantial safety margins built in due to the lack of data and research. (This effectively means that all current BBA certification is not valid for internal wall insulation of traditional buildings unless further calculations to BS EN15026:2007 are undertaken.) A similar approach should also be taken for external wall insulation and other elements, particularly in exposed areas, with safety factors built into the models37. Ultimately a whole new standard is required that assesses all moisture risks arising within buildings. Owing to the practical difficulty of achieving overall wall U-values of less than 0.3 W/m2K,
and the dangers of reducing heat flow through a masonry wall, attention should be given to documents which present definitive targets for heat loss in wall elements, particularly for solid moisture-permeable walls. Approved Documents such as L1B & L2B, Scottish Technical Handbooks, and Northern Ireland Technical Booklets should differentiate between internal and external wall insulation approaches and set realistic and safe U-value targets for the internal insulation of solid walls.

And for reusers of old timber beams and wood flooring within an old building:
The wider consequences of individual retrofit measures on traditional buildings need to be taken into account in policy. For example, work to improve the airtightness of a building may have negative consequences for fabric moisture loads (leading to possible fabric degradation and human health issues). These consequential and systemic affects must be acknowledged in terms of liability.

Reusing wooden shutters seems overlooked:
Good maintenance, repair and improvement work which increases the energy efficiency of buildings, such as the repair, draught-proofing and secondary glazing of timber windows, should be considered as a valid retrofit measure, and as such should be supported by funding and financing schemes.

Completely overlooked are the consequences to global warming of not reusing old building material bought from the salvage sector and simply procuring brand new material instead. The energy cost of the new materials suggested in the report needs to be calculated and compared to the energy cost or reusing reclaimed materials. That seems the simplest option of all and its omission surely points to the inherent bias of the SBTA which contains no representatives from the salvage sector nor it would seem any proponents of the reuse of building materials.

SalvoNEWS asked DECC how many original old front doors it estimates would be thrown away and replaced (with sad short-life modern reproductions) under the Green Deal. The answer was that, unfortunately, it had no answer.

Salvo recommends that dealers and other concerned people should contact their MPs and ask why reuse of old materials is being ignored by DECC.

Where is reclaimed flooring heading?

Should DECC pay the trade for the embodied energy it saves? Responsible Retrofit of Traditional Buildings [1.4 MB]

Story Type:  News

ID: 70429

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