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Edinburgh World Heritage/Projects/Empowering residents of historic homes to be energy efficient

Empowering residents of historic homes to be energy efficient

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24th July 2019

Rebecca Leary

Energy efficiency and conservation are at the heart of the Edinburgh World Heritage project to restore the Canongate Housing Development.

Completed in 1969, this complex of post-war housing was designed by Sir Basil Spence, one of Scotland’s most accomplished and prolific 20th-century architects. The Canongate Housing Energy Efficiency & Conservation Project aims to protect the architectural significance of the site, but also, through engagement with the community, to reduce harmful emissions and tackle fuel poverty.

In June, Edinburgh World Heritage held a workshop for residents and flat owners, providing them with tailored advice and information about their buildings to allow them to make informed decisions regarding their energy consumption, and to increase their confidence in how best to deal with energy issues in their homes.

The workshop took place in Harry Younger Hall, located at the rear of the Canongate Housing Development and also designed by Sir Basil Spence .

Delivered by Maddy and Catherine from Home Energy Scotland, the workshop focused on the problems that had been revealed by feasibility and design studies at an earlier stage of the project. Advice included tips on how to save energy and money, keep properties warm in winter, and deal with condensation, which is a frequent issue for post-war concrete buildings.

Attendees were also introduced to funding opportunities available to them for future work (or any similar project) via the Canongate Housing Energy Efficiency & Conservation Project, from Energy Efficiency Grants and Loans, which are available from Home Energy Scotland, to Edinburgh World Heritage’s Conservation Funding Programme, designed for private owners, the public, and community or charitable organisations, and which target conservation works.

Maddy and Catherine from Home Energy Scotland delivering the workshop

Looking ahead, the project is now moving forward with the next stage of its work, having successfully passed the design stage, which included the commission of several technical but essential surveys to support the design process, led by a team from John Gilbert Architects.

These surveys included a variety of crucial evidence-gathering techniques such as thermal imaging, air permeability testing, a boroscope survey (which involves a tiny camera on the end of a flexible tube to investigate cavity walls), an acoustic survey, an asbestos survey, concrete repair trials, analysis of concrete and mortar, trials testing ventilation effectiveness and a hygrothermal (the movement of heat and moisture through a building) risk assessments survey.

The Canongate Housing Development project is funded by the Scottish Government through SEEP – Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme and carried out in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council. The project is also receiving funding from Scottish Power Energy Networks Green Economy Fund to cover capital costs associated with energy efficiency measures.


Header image © Historic Environment Scotland (Spence, Glover and Ferguson Collection).