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Hamilton Road and Main Street, Bellshill, Glasgow

Hamilton Road and Main Street, Bellshill, Glasgow

Feasibility study into energy efficiency improvements in tenements


This feasibility study addressed all the issues which relate to improving the thermal comfort of the tenants and it looked into presenting options for efficient and cost conscious energy services. The report is centred on a series of applicable fabric improvements and low & zero carbon alternative technologies to achieve reduced energy cost and maintain a good quality of living for the vulnerable. 

The housing association is concerned with the difficulties of tackling the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) requirements and they are aware that this involves addressing energy efficiency, particularly reducing heat-loss through the building’s fabric.

There is also a priority to tackle fuel poverty.

The apartments are occupied by what is referred to as a 'key group' of tenants which includes people that are: unemployed, retired with low pensions, single mothers, or young couples who are in difficult circumstances. Fuel poverty is often caused by a combination of factors, for example; by inefficient heating systems, badly maintained and obsolete appliances which consume a lot of energy and heat very little and the poor performance of the building fabric.




There are many solutions which involve public interaction which can also be beneficial in reducing energy use; these will not be addressed as the more technical approach has been favoured. The solutions, most of which are low carbon initiatives, will eventually contribute to reducing carbon emissions and prove to be environmentally acceptable. This in turn will fulfil the requirements of the SHQS. 

The report outlines and investigates:

  • Understand and review how energy efficiency can be applied to the fabric performance of the buildings
  • Evaluation of the technical constraints related to alternative heating devices
  • Identification and explanation of the links between energy efficiency and reducing fuel poverty
  • Description of the issues surrounding the economical constrains in new alternatives


Existing fabric

The site for this study is in the town centre at the junction of Hamilton road with Main Street in the town of Bellshill in North Lanarkshire. The buildings are red sand stone tenements, built at the turn of the 20th century.  They are supplied with electricity throughout and gas is not used at all in the apartments.  All services are therefore electric, with tenants vulnerable to energy prices oscillating, and suggesting that they face high energy costs.  Dependence on one source of energy also touches on the issue of security of supply, where there could be concerns about the future ownership of suppliers and origins of supplies in a global market.

hamilton rd front 2 close SEC_300X185

Image: Front elevation of properties on Hamilton Road, Bellshill

The back elevation is finished with a cement:lime:sand harling over sandstone walls that appear to have some dampness and moisture problems as the harling has fallen off in places, particularly at  the stair case that projects from the back elevation. All windows are double glazed with timber frames and appear to be in good condition.



Image: Rear elevation of properties on Hamilton Road, Bellshill

The full feasibility study can be downloaded on the right.


Fabric intervention alternatives

One of the most important energy efficiency methods is to improve the thermal performance of the walls which can account for 35% of energy loss in un-insulated properties. In this study each dwelling was virtually constructed and modelled with many alternatives simulated noting how energy was saved on the same energy usage patterns as currently experienced.

The same alternatives have been modelled for both properties and there will be a difference in wall external exposure and heating areas but essentially all solutions fit the current wall construction.

The report lists and expands on 9 fabric improvement strategies for these two properties. The report which can be downloaded from the right of this page describes the retrofit materials and positioning of these materials to achieve the retrofit savings.

Heating system alternatives 

The report has explored the possibility of new and different methods of water and space heating that is viable and cost effective. There is great concern over the way in which energy is supplied and also consumed. The apartments could be equipped with efficient and economical heating devices but if the fabric of the building is deteriorating and not storing such heat in the building; the demand will always be high creating problems such as fuel poverty. 

The study has explored and modelled the effects of 4 alternatives to the existing heating system and describes the impact on the future use of the apartments in Hamilton Rd and Main St in Bellshill. The report also describes the implementation and advantages of small scale and larger scale heat and power alternatives through the use of low & zero carbon renewable energy technology.


In terms of space and water heating a number of alternatives were suggested by looking at more efficient devices that can lower the demand for electricity or can use alternative energy sources, for example, renewables or natural gas. These alternatives were explored together with their pros and cons in the specific context of implementation at the site in question.

A community heating system would be an appealing and worthy venture as it would supply low cost energy to each of the apartments.

The principal recommendation from this study is that the first step in any further work should focus on the building fabric and interventions to improve its performance.  When a more detailed study of that aspect has been concluded the various alternatives for improving the heating systems or introducing new energy sources, as set out above, can then be considered.


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