Integrating conservation aspects into energy performance assessments for 20th century buildings: assessing the Canongate Housing complex in Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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E-pub ahead of print


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Original languageEnglish
Article numberRACO-2017-0019
JournalJournal of Architectural Conservation
Early online date17 Jan 2018
StateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jan 2018


The integration of conservation aspects is rarely considered in energy-related retrofit assessments. Particularly vulnerable to inappropriate retrofit is the mid-20th century heritage, constructed during an era of experimentation with new materials and construction techniques and little regard to energy performance. This paper presents an assessment methodology and its application on a retrofit assessment of the 1960s Canongate Housing complex in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. The aim was to systematically integrate conservation with energy performance, economic feasibility and construction practices. The paper demonstrates that, through production of a Statement of Significance and the
identification of character-defining elements, conservation can be integrated into retrofit assessment in the form of a long- and short-listing process. The assessments show that retrofit of technical building systems and renewable energy generation systems achieves larger reductions than fabric improvement
measures and that payback periods can vary substantially for different flat types,
leading potentially to diverging interests amongst flat owners.


  • energy performance, historic buildings, conservation