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Carnbooth House Hotel, Glasgow

Carnbooth House Hotel, Glasgow

This case study presents an energy efficiency focused refurbishment project which transformed a Victorian villa into a low carbon hotel.


Energy efficiency was considered at the outset of this refurbishment project, transforming a Victorian villa into a boutique hotel. The owners recognised that improving the thermal performance would result in a better experience for their guests, whilst reducing their running costs and minimising carbon emissions. They utilised the experience and expertise of the Carbon Trust who provided Low Carbon Building Design Advice.


Existing Fabric

The existing, Grade B listed, building had solid stone walls, no insulation in the roof or floors and draughty single glazed windows. The owners took advice from the Carbon Trust, who produced a Low Carbon Building Design Advice report and provided a specialist consultant who attending design team meetings to ensure that appropriate decisions were made and that energy efficiency remained a focus for the refurbishment project.


Improvement measures


As Carnbooth House had listed status, all upgrades were required to be sympathetic to the character of the building. As such, internal wall insulation was specified for the external walls.

Rigid insulation panels were inserted into a new timber frame, fitted to the inside of the walls. Plasterboard was then added to provide a smooth surface for decoration.

In addition, these walls were then coated with a paint which contained millions of microscopic evacuated hollow beads. The beads created a barrier, preventing heat loss through the wall.


The draughty single glazed windows were replaced with new double glazed sash and case units, maintaining the appearance of the old windows, but improving the thermal performance. This was further improved as the windows included a low-emissivity coating, which allows sunlight to enter, but reducing heat loss from a room. The new windows were well sealed around the frame to prevent draughts.

Roof and Floor

Insulation was also installed in the roof space and below the ground floor to improve heat retention.


An oil fired boiler had previously been used to heat the building, but a new gas supply was connected and gas fired condensing boilers were installed to provide space heating and hot water. The gas supply is also used by the catering staff in the hotel's kitchens. The heating system was designed to complement the condensing boilers (which are most efficient when water returning to them is around 55°C, allowing them to operate in condensing mode) thus low temperature radiators were specified.

Lighting and Appliances

Energy efficiency was also considered in the fit out of the hotel. Compact fluorescent energy efficient lighting was installed throughout the building, with occupancy sensors operating lights in intermittently used areas such as bathrooms.

Efficient appliances were also specified, including A rated bar fridges.


The insulation, window upgrades and services improvements made to Carnbooth House improved the energy efficiency and reduced running costs for the owners.

The addition of internal wall insulation and the hollow bead paint resulted in an overall heat loss reduction through the external walls of 80%, without impacting on the appearance of the external fabric. The new windows also reduced heat losses by more than 80% compared to the old draughty units.

Insulating the walls, ground floor and roof space resulted in an overall heat loss reduction of approximately 60%.

Using a mains natural gas supply instead of oil reduced running costs but also reduced associated carbon emissions - natural gas produces about 20% less carbon than oil on a like for like basis.


The hotel opened, following the refurbishment work, in November 2009. The upgrades significantly improved the thermal performance without compromising the appearance of the Grade B listed property.

Comfort levels are now improved throughout the hotel, allowing more of the historic villa to be enjoyed by guests.

Running costs are also reduced, cost savings of around £22,000 per year are being realised by the hotel's owners. The total cost of the refurbishment of Carnbooth House was around £5million, with £130,000 spent directly on measures to improve the energy efficiency. The reduced running costs mean that the investment in energy efficiency measures will have a payback period of around 6 years.

The building owners found Carbon Trust's assistance to be empowering.

"It has given us the technical knowledge required to be able to reduce our energy consumption and its associated cost... We can let our customers enjoy the level of luxury they expect from a hotel of our quality in the most energy efficient way possible today."

The CO2 savings resulting from this refurbishment amounted to 96 tonnes per year.



Carnbooth House Hotel

Carbon Trust


Resource Efficient Scotland supported the preparation and presentation of this case study for the Retrofit Scotland website.

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