Research Output

Conservation of a historic building through sympathetic thermal enhancement.

  This paper documents research undertaken by the Scottish Energy Centre at Edinburgh Napier University to refurbish a historic library building by means of thermal improvements. The interventions selected were specifically chosen to minimalise any impact on the architectural integrity of the building.

The study involved thermally enhancing the ceiling using a hygroscopic insulation material (200mm wood fibreboards). The objective was to measure the thermal transmittance and hygrothermal performance of the building, both pre and post intervention, with the aim of reducing heat loss without causing condensation problems.

The research demonstrated that, through the use of a modern, natural insulation material, the thermal transmittance (U-value) was reduced from 1.3 to 0.2 (W/m2K) – reducing the buildings energy consumption and associated carbon emissions, but most importantly conserving thermal comfort and preserving the buildings literary content. The hygrothermal analysis showed that the natural, vapour permeable insulating material altered the hygrothermal profile of the attic space. Extended monitoring of this environment detected conditions for one prolonged condensation episode However; visual surveys suggest that the hygroscopic insulation material acted to mitigate any detrimental effects of condensation build-up

  • Date:

    30 November 2014

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • Library of Congress:

    TH Building construction

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    690.1 Structural elements


Stinson, J., Bros Williamson, J., Reid, A. & Currie, J. (2014). Conservation of a historic building through sympathetic thermal enhancement. In Structural Studies, Repairs and Maintenance of Heritage Architecture XIV, 633-642. doi:10.2495/STR150531



conservation; preservation; historic building; retrofit; thermal; hygrothermal;

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