Napier team seeks remedy for off-colour properties

SCIENTISTS using thermal imaging equipment have been drafted in to help turn Edinburgh's famous tenements into green, energy efficient buildings.

The Edinburgh Napier University team is using the hi-tech imaging cameras to detect the amount of heat escaping from the traditional properties.

The idea is to carry out a series of tests to identify problem areas in a bid to come up with energy-efficient solutions for the historic buildings, which have high ceilings and are difficult to heat.

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The university has been working with Historic Scotland to identify buildings which would benefit from insulation measures and also to consult with the body on how to make sensitive improvements, especially on those which are listed.

The team has been analysing properties in Drummond Street, Roxburgh Street and Marshall Street.

The data collected will be used to develop new guidance and measures to make tenement buildings across Scotland more energy efficient in the future. The project is being led by staff from the university's Institute for Sustainable Construction.

Lecturer Celine Garnier said: "We are testing how well the current building fabric is performing by calculating the heat losses from the inside of the building to the outside.

"Once we know the results we will test different insulation materials and identify different solutions to see what works best. Some of the buildings are listed so we have been working with Historic Scotland because we have to be sensitive to the building.

"The improvements will involve taking measures such as putting insulation behind shutters and other windows where heat is escaping from.

"This project is a great opportunity to provide good robust data on the true performance of the country's existing building stock.

"By working with Historic Scotland, who are charged with safeguarding the nation's historic environment, we can develop the energy saving measures that these buildings greatly need."

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Traditional buildings built before 1919, such as tenements, are classified as hard to treat.But in order for Scotland to address C02 reduction targets and deliver more energy-efficient homes, it has become more important that pre-1919 buildings - which make up around 20 per cent of housing stock - are fully assessed.

The 20,000 research project involves measuring the rate of heat loss through floors, walls, doors, windows and roofs.A series of measures to improve efficiency will then be introduced to the properties and then re-assessed to test the impact.

Each building has to be monitored for two weeks and it is hoped to show that traditionally constructed buildings can be brought up to a high standard of thermal performance without compromising the building fabric.

Roger Curtis, head of technical research at Historic Scotland, said: "We welcome the opportunity to work with Edinburgh Napier University on such an important project."

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