Traditionally built walls perform better than expected

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




(2011), "Traditionally built walls perform better than expected", Structural Survey, Vol. 29 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Traditionally built walls perform better than expected

Article Type: Newbriefs From: Structural Survey, Volume 29, Issue 3

Keywords: Energy efficiency, Historic buildings, Walls

SPAB (The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) is currently conducting a major research project into the energy efficiency performance of a range of traditionally built properties. Results from the first stage of the project suggest that standard U-value calculations used across the construction industry under-estimate the thermal performance of traditional walls. In some instances, it now appears that heat loss through vernacular materials can be up to three times lower than expected. The initial study (report downloadable at and audio visual discussion at suggests that conventional industry practices are struggling to accurately represent the thermal performance of traditionally built walls. Ultimately, this could have negative consequences for historic buildings as calculated theoretical U-values (suggesting a poorer performance) may lead owners and professionals to adopt disproportionate energy saving interventions that may not only be unnecessary, but also invasive and potentially harmful to the fabric of a building.

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