Building maintenance in a changing climate

A month ago Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland published their “Guide to building maintenance in a changing climate“. We downloaded our copy <here>.

Alnwick is less than 70 miles from Edinburgh. They are preparing for hotter, drier summers; warmer, wetter winters; and more frequent heavy rain.

Is there anything we can learn? Let’s hope so.

  • Rising temperatures may encourage the arrival of new species such as wood-eating insects, which will lead to accelerating rates of decay as a result of biodegradation and insect attack.
  • More sunshine will reduce the longevity of materials which are degraded by ultra violet light such as bituminous felt roof finishes and plastic gutters and windows; accelerate the degradation of painted finishes to timber elements such as sash and case window and doors.
  • More rainfall will result in deeper penetration of water into building fabric. Masonry will remain saturated for longer periods which will increase physical and chemical stresses on stonework, increasing decay and vulnerability to frost damage.
  • Weathering and decay, particularly at higher levels, combined with storm events may lead to structural failure where chimney stacks and other masonry features are in poor condition
  • Periods of intense rainfall mean that existing gutters, downpipes and drains may struggle to cope with the predicted volumes and intensities of rainwater even if they are kept clean and free flowing, leading to greater risks of water penetration and damage to the structure and internal finishes.

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