There is a significant lack of relevant research and data for traditional building performance (both existing structures and retrofitted), however there is no short term fix for this issue.
Materials, features and users of buildings interact in complex ways that require a holistic and systemic approach. There are also values and aims with regard to the retrofit of traditional buildings which are not easily compatible with each other. For example, the aims of energy-use reduction, financial payback, human wellbeing, fabric health, and heritage and cultural enhancement may not always fit together in a project. What’s more, projects will almost certainly require a different approach from building to building.
Lack of Research
The uncertainty of research and data, complexity, and differing values have major consequences for the future of traditional buildings and their users. Neither the risks nor benefits of retrofitting this building stock can be clearly identified from the research and guidance currently available. Despite all this, there is an urgent need to move ahead with the improvement and retrofit of traditional buildings. It is by far the most cost effective strategy when it comes to tackling carbon reduction and fuel poverty and if done properly dramatically improves the health and wellbeing a property can provide to those who occupy it.
Whilst we can never fully remove uncertainty from our relationships with buildings, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risks when retrofitting solid-wall traditional properties. These steps are related to specific research, standards, guidance or training. Primarily a systemic and holistic approach is needed, beginning with the appropriate specification of products that takes account of buildings and their users. This must be followed with adequate training of contractors and other stakeholders, including the final users. They should not be dealt with independently but as integral and interactive parts of a whole. After all, good design is only delivered through resolving the interface of different elements. By taking a comprehensive approach and arming ourselves with thorough information, training and research we will be able to continue to develop continually improving strategies that allow beneficial improvements to be made to the energy performance of traditional buildings as well as our wider built environment.