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The distribution of historic timber-framed buildings in the UK and the impacts of their low energy retrofit

Whitman, Christopher ORCID: 2017. The distribution of historic timber-framed buildings in the UK and the impacts of their low energy retrofit. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis has quantified that approximately 68,000 examples of timber-framed buildings, built pre-1850, survive to this day. By mapping their geographic location, it becomes apparent that they are predominantly concentrated in the East and Southeast of England, and to a lesser extent in the West Midlands and Welsh Marches, their distribution showing correlation to the historic availability of building materials, climatic conditions and socio-economic factors. As we aim to improve the energy efficiency of our historic buildings, care must be taken to minimize any negative impacts on the existing building fabric. A balance must be achieved between conservation and improved efficiency to avoid damage to their significance, character and historic fabric. Research to date has focused on the retrofit of solid masonry wall construction, with little investigation into timber-framed buildings. Although guidance on the subject exists, there is minimal academic research to validate the approaches proposed. This thesis aims to begin to address this previously under-researched area. In situ monitoring and digital simulation of five case studies allowed the analysis of current approaches to the retrofit of timber-framed properties. The results suggest that improving airtightness should be prioritised over improvements to the thermal performance of walls. It also indicates that monitoring and simulation should form part of any retrofit decision making process, to ensure the greatest improvements in performance with the minimum loss or risk to historic fabric. Concurrently, the use of interstitial hygrothermal simulation software WUFI®Pro 5.3 was used to simulate proposed replacement panel infill details. Whilst no substantial risk of biological attack has been identified, further physical testing is recommended to corroborate these findings, and simulations should be repeated for specific climates and orientations prior to their use. Together with future research, it is hoped that this thesis will begin to inform guidance that will enable these buildings that have stood for hundreds of years to survive for many more to come.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Historic timber-framed buildings; Low energy retrofit
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 June 2018
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 11:34

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