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Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Technical improvements and staff engagement have reduced this iconic building's energy consumption


Edinburgh Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland, consistently achieving the accolade of Scotland’s most visited paid attraction. It also encompasses a number of other uses including offices, military accommodation, spaces where conferences and events take place and workshops. This diversity of uses as well as the protected status of what is one of the country’s most iconic heritage structures all added up to present a unique challenge in terms of energy efficiency improvements.


Edinburgh Castle © Historic Scotland


There have been a number of retrofit measures undertaken at Edinburgh Castle as part of the retrofit program. Sheep’s wool insulation has been installed to a number of loft spaces. This was laid between joists to a depth of 200mm. Sheep wool was chosen as it is breathable (allowing moisture and dampness out), easy to handle, sustainable, fire resistant and has great thermal qualities.



Sheep's Wool Insulation © Historic Scotland


An additional insulation measure was undertaken to exposed pipes to reduce heat loss from those.

Throughout the various buildings which make up the site, re-lamping with LED bulbs was also undertaken.


A second strand of improvement work involved the implementation of “smart” meter technology to allow a more accurate picture of energy usage on the site to be identified. This is crucial in a site such as Edinburgh Castle as it allows any anomalies to be quickly identified and investigated.

Lastly, the controls and pumps on the gas boilers were upgraded as was the overall Building Management System. This all added up to a comprehensive package of measures which led to a significant reduction in energy usage. All of the retrofit measures were complimented with a series of staff training events to help reduce energy consumption further.


The reduction in both energy usage and carbon emissions has been considerable.

Energy Usage

Firstly, considering energy usage. In 2008-9 prior to any measures being undertaken the annual energy cost for the Castle was around £400,000. This is equivalent to that of approximately 280 ‘typical’ households and represents almost one third of Historic Scotland’s total energy consumption and energy related carbon emissions, making it the largest consumer on our estate.

Following the retrofit measures by 2011-12 this had fallen to £291,000 and by 2012-13 had fallen still further to £273,000.


Carbon Emissions

A fall in carbon emissions was also calculated as being a 21% reduction by 2012-13. It is important to note that this was achieved against a backdrop of visitor numbers since the baseline year (1.1m) to a record high in 2011-12 (1.3m). The retrofit measures can therefore be seen to have a significant reduction in both energy usage and heat loss.


The retrofit project at Edinburgh Castle shows that, even at a complex site with multiple users and considerable protected status, there are significant reductions in energy use which can be made.

It is important when undertaking a project such as this to consider all parts of the building and see where improvements can be made without adversley impacting on the building. This is why measures such as loft insulation and LED lighting were particularly appropriate in this case. Considering heating controls and strategies is also very important in addition to fabric improvements.

Finally, it must also be remembered that the behaviour of those using the building is a significant part of reducing energy usage. Staff awareness and training is therefore also very important as is working with all the users of what is a complex, multi-use site.


Historic Scotland   

Edinburgh Castle


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

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