IHBC Yearbook 2013

R E V I E W 25 SUPPORT AND TRAINING FOR DECISION-MAKERS IN SCOTLAND EWAN HYSLOP Ewan Hyslop MSc PhD is head of sustainability, research and technical education at Historic Scotland, where he manages conservation research, heritage science, and technical outreach and education. He is also responsible for the agency’s climate change programme. His article examines the work of Historic Scotland in improving the provision of easily accessible technical conservation information and guidance. He also looks at the role of Scotland’s new national conservation centre, due to open in Stirling in 2015. weather patterns and increasing frequency of extreme weather events. In Scotland average precipitation has increased by over #$ per cent since the %&'$s, and in some northern parts winter precipitation has risen by over .$ per cent. Sea levels are rising around the Scottish coastline by /–0 mm each year which, combined with winter storm events, is resulting in alarming incidents of flooding and storm-damage to coastal communities and heritage sites. Reports of water penetration to traditional buildings, failures of rainwater protection and drainage systems, and biological growth to masonry are all increasing. Energy e!ciency is a major issue and with pre-%&%& buildings forming around #$ per cent of the Scottish building stock (the proportion is higher in other parts of the UK), traditional buildings must play a part in meeting national emissions reduction targets. While certain historic buildings will always be special cases, the majority of older buildings will need to adapt. As utility costs continue to rise, the future viability of many buildings will depend on their successful adaptation through energy e!ciency retrofit measures. Failure to improve these buildings is likely to result in declining investment and property values, potentially leading to demolition. A key point is that energy e!ciency improvements to traditional buildings require specialist knowledge and training for professionals at all levels, including the construction sector and building trades. HISTORIC SCOTLAND’S ROLE In #$%$ Historic Scotland published two documents outlining traditional skills and training issues, and setting out an approach designed to sustain and enhance the sector. The Scottish Traditional Building Skills Audit and Strategy on Traditional Building Skills (both available from the Historic Scotland website) recognise that training is driven by newer forms of construction without passing on knowledge of traditional skills and materials. Historic Scotland is committed to supporting the sector through a number of actions: • Promoting a better understanding of the value of traditional buildings and their importance to the construction sector and the broader economy. There has probably never been a time when the provision of specialist technical knowledge and expertise has been so crucial for the historic environment in Scotland. A combination of neglect and poor practice, the e"ects of a recession and the increasing impacts of climate change make it a critical period. Add to this the loss of expertise through a reduction in the number of experienced professionals in public and private sectors and it is clear that these are challenging times. Improving the availability of information for those working in the historic environment and construction sectors is key to addressing these challenges. New initiatives by Historic Scotland aim to fill the gap and provide the sector with the information, knowledge and expertise required to help improve the condition of the historic environment and secure a viable future. We know that a considerable proportion of our historic and traditional building stock is in need of repair. The Scottish House Condition Survey #$"$ found that .* per cent of traditionally constructed dwellings need repairs to keep them weatherproof and structurally stable. Over half of them require urgent repairs to prevent fabric deterioration and risks to health and safety. The impacts of climate change are already being felt through changing Historic Scotland’s summer school for #nal-year graduates