Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Sustainability and Adaptation

Dates: 29/10/18
Days of the week: Monday
Total hours: 33
Taught hours: 15.5
On-site instruction: 10.5
Off-site instruction: 4


Examine the impact of heritage conservation on the wider environment and economy, and ways to protect scarce physical resources for the future.

Conservation can and must play a leading role in creating and managing a sustainable built environment. But the current policies and practices of the heritage sector can have both a positive and negative effect.

The module’s main focus is on improving the energy efficiency of traditional Scottish buildings as a means to mitigate climate change. Also covered are the challenges of sourcing appropriate replacement materials and the wider economic impact of redundant or underused buildings.

Entry requirements

Individual modules are open to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. Applicants for the Advanced Professional Diploma should have a relevant degree or professional experience.

Classes, lectures and presentations

  • Introduction to Sustainability
  • Impacts of Climate Change 1
  • Impacts of Climate Change 2
  • Socio-economic and Political Issues 1
  • Socio-economic and Political Issues 2
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Buildings at Risk and Adaptive Reuse

Potential site visits

  • Various properties used in Historic Environment Scotland energy efficiency research and fabric upgrades
  • City Heritage Trust sites
  • Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme sites
  • Townscape Heritage Initiative sites
  • Historic Environment Scotland estate schemes


Introduction to sustainability and the historic environment

  • General principles of sustainability
  • Real and potential effects of climate change on Scotland’s built environment
  • Need to plan and undertake measures to mitigate any negative physical or economic impact
  • Processes of climate change
  • Accounting of carbon use and energy embodied in the historic environment

Impacts of climate change on the historic environment

  • Direct impacts – increased precipitation, temperature and weather events, sea level rise
  • Indirect impacts – inappropriate responses, poor data, commercial opportunism
  • Subsequent results – e.g. decay/loss of historic fabric, waste of resources and increased emissions

Socio-economic, political and cultural issues

  • Public attitudes towards sustainability – e.g. visual impact of secondary glazing or solar panels, the perceived cost-effectiveness of intervention
  • Importance of modifying human behaviour to secure the future of the built environment
  • Contribution of traditional buildings to Scotland’s economy and how their upkeep contributes to employment in the construction sector
  • Importance of promoting and sustaining traditional building skills – e.g. training initiatives, apprenticeships
  • Challenge of finding sustainable replacement materials (e.g. through salvage or other sources) to ensure viability of the historic environment

Energy efficiency and adaptation

  • Current methods of improving thermal performance while mitigating impact on character or historical/architectural integrity
  • Our recent research into alternative methods to reduce heat loss and enhance the efficiency of traditional buildings
  • Innovations in improving the thermal efficiency of building services – e.g. low emission lighting, heat sources, insulation
  • Requirements and recommendations of Part J (Conservation of Fuel and Power) of the current Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations

Buildings at risk and adaptive reuse

  • Reasons for underused traditional buildings, from architectural challenges to economic or political issues around urban regeneration
  • Overview of various controversial schemes – both successful and not – to convert, adapt and reuse redundant buildings over the past 60 years