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 SPAB Conference postponed

The conference, set for June 9th in London, has been affected by the Covid 19 situation and hence the decision to postpone has been taken. We hope to re-arrange the conference for September. 

The conference programme will be developed over the coming weeks and we hope to re-structure the event so that we start to focus on a solutions based approach based on the most recent research findings.

The provisional main topics will focus on Embodied Carbon, Skills and Materials. 

STBA Spring Newsletter published

Cypren, our new Comms and Marketing Co-ordinator has put together a wealth of information on courses, events and other news both from the STBA and our partners, so check out the link on the RHS of this page for a link to this informative piece of work, inc news from ESC, RICS, ASBP, PassvHaus Trust etc.

RICS new Standard Surveying Guidance to come into force in June 2020

RICS have launched the new mandatory RICS Home Survey Standard. The new standard will better protect buyers and sellers, with emphasis on consumers fully understanding the importance and benefits of commissioning a home survey before purchasing a property, as the process and language has undergone simplification and survey offerings are standardised.

New best practice methodology for investigation of Moisture in Buildings - November 2019



Heritage organisations and building surveying and preservation specialists have joined forces to deliver “Investigation of Moisture and its Effects in Traditional Buildings”. STBA members, Property Care Association (PCA), has worked with The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Historic England to produce a working document that has the potential to deliver a ‘joined-up approach’ to investigating damp in traditional buildings.


We shall be pleased to see the publiction of this document, which offers a guide to the level of knowledge for anyone involved in the investigation of dampness and its outcomes in traditional buildings. Also included are issues that need to be considered when assessing building condition, diagnosing defects, and making recommendations that set out options and allow clients to make informed choices in materials and techniques, which may be adopted.

Currently the methodology remains a working draft, and further amendments are possible before the process of drafting is completed.

Ultimately, when the document is completed and adopted, the methodology will reinforce the accountability and expectation that all signatories will expect of professionals tasked with investigating dampness in any building built using traditional materials or techniques.

This document is currently a working draft but can be downloaded here.


SPAB Building Performance Survey Final Report – December 2019

The SPAB building performance research represents nearly 10 years of considered investigation. There are no simple, universal solutions to improving energy efficiency in old buildings, but the research has shown that performance is often better than many assume. Sympathetic improvements, when combined with regular maintenance, help old buildings to be comfortable, efficient and useful.


The final report, by our members Archimetrics, is now available to download.

Read the final report . . .

Climate Heritage Network Launch – October 2019


Our Heritage Chair, John Preston, attended the launch of the Climate Heritage Network in Edinburgh. Sponsors for the 2-day event included STBA members and supporters Historic Environment Scotland, National Trust, IHBC, ICOMOS, Historic England and the National Trust for Scotland.


This network of organisations was formed to enable the cultural heritage sector to make an important and significant contribution to climate actions.


The Climate Heritage Network attended the 2019 UN Climate Summit ,COP25, in Madrid to help showcase the role of arts, culture and heritage in Climate Action. Several members of the network curated side events. On 5th December, the newly formed Climate Heritage Network released its first action plan. Dubbed the Madrid-to-Glasgow Arts, Culture and Heritage Climate Action Plan, its release kicks off a year of culture-based climate action that will culminate in 2020 at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Whole-House Retrofit – STBA project with Melin Homes


The STBA is piloting a large-scale Whole-House retrofit project under the BEIS Thermal Efficiency Innovation Fund initiative, working with social housing provider Melin Homes, on 30-40 dwellings in South Wales.


Following surveys of building fabric and services, ventilation and indoor air quality as well as context and heritage value, we have drawn up retrofit plans for each property. STBA and Melin Homes are now discussing the repair work that needs to be carried out prior to retrofit. The timetable for repairs to be carried out on some properties is September 2019, the retrofit works to commence in October.


Alongside the training for surveyors, we are also developing training for installers and inspectors. Following further testing, the process, survey templates and supporting methodology will be released as a toolkit for industry use across the UK.


More . . . .

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Forthcoming Events


STBA Members Meeting - 25th February 2020



Members and Supporting Organisations are invited to the 2020 Advisory Group Meeting and co-chairs election in London on 25th February from 4.00. 



The programme for the evening:

  • Election/re-election of Sustainability and Heritage co-chairs 

  • Guest speaker - Ollie Lancaster of Wales & West Utilities on grid decarbonisation.

  • Brief summary of our work in the past year, key policy updates.

  • Discussion on our priorities for the next 12 months. 

  • Drinks reception, closing around 18.00. 

The STBA operates with 3 co-chairs on the board, coming from Heritage, Sustainability & Industry. As well as attending 3 board meetings per year, they work closely with the STBA team and play an influencial part in our activities and outputs. Positions up for election/re-election are the Sustainability and Heritage Chairs.


If you would like to nominate someone for either of the key posts of Sustainability or Heritage Chairs, please email


The Sustainability Chair has become vacant as Peter Draper will be taking up a more active role in the day to day running of the STBA. In addition, we are please to be welcoming Cypren Edmunds to the team.


See 'Past Events' for a summary of the 2019 event. 





Upcoming Events by Others: 




Traditional Building Retrofit: Case Studies - Green Register half-day seminar led by STBA's Nick Heath


Due to popular demand, this course has been designed as a follow up to Nick Heath's "Retrofitting Traditional Buildings" course. 
  • 29 April 2020, Bristol
  • 20 May 2020, Canterbury
  • 10 June 2020, Glasgow
  • 1 July 2020, London
  • Exeter - Date coming soon



Retrofitting Traditional Buildings - 1-day Green Register course led by STBA's Nick Heath


One-day technical training events, run by STBA Supporting Organisation, The Green Register, and led by STBA Technical Director, Nicholas Heath. 


Upcoming date(s):

  • 11 March 2020, Bristol
  • 22 April 2020, Canterbury
  • 3 June 2020, London
  • 9 June 2020, Glasgow


More . . . . 



CIOB - Understanding Building Conservation

A 2-day course led by John Edwards, and providing an introduction to building conservation, delivered through the ICOMOS Training and Education Guideline. It will be delivered in the context of the latest British Standard BS 7913: 2013

  • 4 & 5 March 2020, London
  • 20 & 21 April 2020, Cork
  • 13 & 14 May 2020, London
  • 2 & 3 June 2020, Exeter

More . . . .



ASBP - Healthy Buildings Conference & Expo

  • 27th February, London

Discounts for STBA members. 


Bookings & more info . . . .

ESC - Energy Efficiency Measures for Older and Traditional Buildings

A 2-day traditional building retrofit course that delivers a Level 3 Award Qualification and is a requirement under PAS 2035. Delivered by John Edwards, a member of the STBA’s Panel of Experts and BSI Retrofit Standards Task Group

  • 24 & 25 March 2020, Belfast
  • 30 April & 1 May 2020, Glasgow
  • 18 & 19 May 2020, London

More . . . .




CIOB - Conservation Conference 


Future Skills for Traditional Buildings held at Church House, Westminster


  • 28 April 2020, London



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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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