The Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance is a collaboration of organisations that acts as a forum for sustaining and improving *traditional buildings.


*Traditional construction (solid wall) differs significantly  from modern construction in that modern buildings are designed to keep moisture out with layers of impervious materials such as cement and plastic membranes. Traditional buildings however work by using solid semi-permeable materials that can absorb moisture without damage and release it slowly back into the environment as conditions become dryer. Adequate ventilation is a key part of this process. This is often referred to as ‘breathable construction’ and encompasses solid masonry buildings as well as timber framed construction, generally constructed before the First World War.


Featured News


STBA Members' Meeting - 19th February 2019

STBA Members, Supporting Organisations and Technical Experts are invited to the 2019 STBA Advisory Group at 16.00 on 19th February 2019 at our offices in London. We will update our members with a summary of our work in 2018 followed by discussions about priorities for the coming year. 

Our guest speaker is Simon Ayres who will be talking about the Trustmark quality assurance scheme for PAS 2035.  PAS 2035 is the specification for the energy retrofit of domestic buildings and is due to be published in May 2019.

RSVPs to

Neil May - November 2018

Our co-founder, Neil May, sadly passed away on 12th November. His passion, knowledge & ability to motivate change will be greatly missed. His legacy of inspiring people to promote a sustainable built environment will continue. Neil's work continues to form the basis of much of our work with much of the STBA guidance developed by Neil. And much of our work on Heritage and Sustainability is inspired by The Future of the Past. You can download the summary here.

In memory of Neil May: 1962 - 2018

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French version of STBA Guidance Wheel

and launch of CREBA - November 2018

The STBA Guidance Wheel has been adapted to give retrofit guidance for older buildings in France. CREBA (Centre de ressources pour la réhabilitation responsable du bâti ancien) has developed a French version of this freely available on-line retrofit tool, which highlights areas of concern for different types of construction and climatic zones. The French government are hoping to repeat the success of the UK where professionals have been using the Guidance Wheel for several years. The on-line tool assists decision making and increases learning about the whole-house approach to retrofit of traditional buildings.


At the launch of CREBA in November, our Nigel Griffiths gave a presentation on the STBA Guidance Wheel that has become recognised as an essential tool when planning retrofit of traditional buildings.


The French Guidance Wheel can be seen here and you can access the UK version here.


A short video produced by CREBA on their work can be seen here, and a video on the use of the french Guidance Wheel can be seen here



MEES Workshop on Practical Responsies to 

Energy Efficiency Policy - November 2018


Our Autumn event, held in conjunction with Fit for the Future, analysed the current Minimum Energy Eficiency Standards and looked at how these are being interpreted in practice in the rented sector. Helene Bartos, from BEIS, who joined us for the discussions, adviced on what the regulations mean and listened to the evidence of problems that are being encountered. 

In addition to complying with the standards, delegates were keen to hear how to achieve real energy efficiency - which is not always the same thing! Whilst policy continues to rely on achieving an EPC level, the focus of property owners will not be on achieving real thermal comfort and addressing the needs of the building and its occupants.  The event succeeded in identifying the problems and possible solutions that we will use for further dialogue with BEIS.

More . . . .

EPCs and the Whole House Approach

October 2018


Energy Performance Certificates are used as a tool that BEIS considers key in promoting energy efficiency improvements to buildings. With the increasing use of EPCs in policy it is vital that they reflect a true assessment of all types of buildings. As part of the STBA's ongoing dialogue with the government on building assessment and the whole-house approach, we have responded to the consultation on Energy Performance Certificates which closed on 19th October. Download the STBA response to the EPC consultation here.


The EPC is not a substitute for an energy audit and can only be useful as part of an enhanced homeowners’ report for the individual property. This would include assessment of the building type, condition and risk factors as well as a step-by-step retrofit/refurbishment plan – going into the future. 


We therefore urge you to read the STBA scoping study, EPCs and the whole-house approach. This report provides an overview of the key issues, constraints and opportunities surrounding EPCs. It identifies ways in which they could be better aligned with the STBA’s ‘whole-house’ approach, recommended in the Each Home Counts report.




ASBP Awards shortlist announced

December 2018

The six shortlisted projects for the inaugural ASBP Awards have been announced and we are delighted that two refurbishment projects have been included. Both of these follow the whole-house approach.

The awards recognise construction projects which exemplify excellence in sustainability through their products, design and delivery. The first of the retrofits is Bowman’s Lea, a project by one of our panel of experts, Harry Paticas, and demonstrates the use of the whole-house approach to a ‘step-by-step’ retrofit. Whilst this is a 1978 property, the same principles apply to both modern and traditional buildings.

The second project is Hampstead Cottage by Roger Mears Architects. This project was the refurbishment of a Grade II Listed house and although the listing allowed for more flexibility towards the rigorous building control standards, the architects aimed for a higher level of sustainable fabric upgrading.

The winners will be announced at the ASBP’s Healthy Buildings Conference and Expo which takes place on 28th February 2019 at London South Bank University.


More . . .  

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Forthcoming Events

Date for your Diaries:

STBA Members Meeting 19 February 2019, London

The annual STBA Advisory Group Meeting for our Patrons, Members and Supporting Organisations will take place in London on 19th February 2019 at 16.00.  We shall outline the STBA plans for the next year and look forward to receiving your views on the key concerns for the future. We are also pleased to  confirm, as our guest speaker, Simon Ayres, Chief Executive of Trustmark.

STBA-SPAB Conference 11th June 2019

The 2019 STBA-SPAB Conference will be held in London on 11th June 2019.


More information coming soon






Upcoming Events by Others: 



Driving up Quality in Domestic Retrofit - EHC, Trustmark & PAS 2035  - The Green Register

A bite-size review from Peter Rickaby

- 31 January 2019, London (5 till 7 pm)



Retrofitting Traditional Buildings: Principles and Practice - The Green Register

These one-day technical training events are run by STBA Supporting Organisation, The Green Register, and led by STBA Technical Director, Nicholas Heath. Nick covers current issues, solutions and emerging best practice in how to achieve ‘responsible retrofit’ – sustainable, low-energy traditional buildings with retained character, minimal risk to buildings and occupants and real benefits for all.


- 13 February 2019, Bath 

- 27 March 2019, Huddersfield 

- 10 April 2019, Newcastle 

- 22 May 2019, London

- 12 June 2019,Cambridge 



More . . . 




CIOB - Understanding Building Conservation


- 6-7 February 2019, London

- 19-20 February 2019, Swansea

- 5-6 June 2019, London

- 25-26 September 2019, London



More . . . 



ASBP - Healthy Buildings Conference & Expo

28th February, London

New Year's offer on tickets bought in January 2019 - 10% off by using code "HB19NEWYEAR"

Further discounts for STBA members:  £150+VAT each 

(£135+VAT if bought in January using "HB19NEWYEAR" code)

Plus ASBP are offering a limited number of buy-one-get-one-free tickets for the members of event partners! 


More . . . .



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Whole House Retrofit: a short paper that sets out the background to the development of the whole house approach, then examines the various levels of retrofit which are often described as whole house but in reality most fall far short. 


The STBA’s optimal approach (Responsible Retrofit) is explained, together with a final section which looks forward to a vision of transformative retrofit and the role that it could play in delivering a truly sustainable society for the 21st century. 

Whole House Retrofit

Planning Responsible Retrofit: designed for use by owners, designers, project managers and contractors when planning a retrofit project. 

the STBA Guide to Planning Responsible Retrofit.pdf
Planning Responsible Retrofit

Moisture in Buildings: an integrated approach to risk assessment and guidance by Neil May (UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings) and Chris Sanders 

Available to download via the bsi website.

Bristolians' Solid Wall Insulation Guidance: Solid-wall insulation guide and video developed for those living in Bristol to help them make more informed decisions about how to insulate their homes.  This guidance is now used by professionals as well as homeowners all over the UK.

Bristolian Solid Wall Insulation Guidance



An immediate objective of the STBA is to focus on the risks and benefits associated with generic approaches to repair, maintenance and retro-fitting of traditional buildings. We have completed a gap analysis of current research on performance of traditional buildings, including an analysis of expertise and skills, in order to inform future research and policies. 


We are establishing advocacy routes to key decision-makers involved in the sustainability of the built environment, including the Green Deal, in order to help inform policy development relating to traditional buildings.


We have completed a gap analysis of current research on performance of traditional buildings, including an analysis of expertise and skills, in order to inform future research and policies.


In addition, the STBA has identified three key areas of immediate concern relating to standards used in the refurbishment of traditional buildings:

  • Government Consultations - We are establishing advocacy routes to key decision-makers involved in the sustainability of the built environment, in order to help inform policy development relating to traditional buildings.
  • Standards and Regulations - The STBA has identified three key areas of immediate concern relating to standards used in the refurbishment of traditional buildings: Moisture Risk, Heat Loss and Internal Wall Insulation (IWI)  
  • Advocacy - The STBA is also seeking to influence the performance/ delivery of retrofit projects on traditional buildings by working with leading owners of building stock to measure and improve the interventions adopted. So far this work has included work for Blackpool Council and Bristol City Council. 


Get Involved  -  STBA Membership

Organisations interested in supporting our work can get involved as a 

Member (not-for-profits) or Affiliate Member (for profit) Click here

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