Growing a Greener Glasgow

Improving Victorian tenement windows

Last year a South Seeds project dramatically improved the lives of residents in Victorian Govanhill tenements by upgrading or replacing their broken and draughty windows.

Residents had suffered ill health, sleeplessness and high fuel bills because of heat loss or water ingress due to their cracked or ill-fitting windows. Others worried over their children’s safety due to broken glass or poorly maintained windows that could not be closed or locked.

In draughty Victorian tenement flats, simply replacing the windows or fitting secondary glazing can transform residents’ lives,” said South Seeds’ energy officer Casey Dickson. “We wanted to show how lives can change, so we offered to install windows where our home energy audit had identified problems.”

Seven low-income households benefited from the £21,000 pilot project which was funded by fines levied against energy companies for bad practice.

Raymond, whose home in Govanhill had new windows installed by South Seeds last year, said: “What a difference it’s made. My bills have gone down and I spent the money on curtains. I don’t get ill all the time, and enjoy coming home to a warm house instead of a freezer. And the best thing is the noise. It’s so quiet. I notice it most at night when there are always vans and cars, and people standing outside talking.

I’m on the ground floor so the windows make a huge difference. You can hardly hear anything at all. There are many other advantages. There’s no condensation, so no towels under windows or listening to the ‘drip drip drip’ as the water hit the floor, and no mopping up puddles or emptying basins.”

Although many tenements are good quality, with the lowest average carbon emissions of any housing type, half still fall below the EPC Band C status which the Existing Homes Alliance argues almost all Scottish homes should meet by 2025 to address both fuel poverty and climate change goals.

Tenements are the most common type of housing in Scotland’s urban areas, making up almost a quarter of housing stock. They are normally described as “hard to treat” in terms of energy efficiency, especially when compared to post-war housing, which can typically benefit from loft and cavity wall insulation.

South Seeds hopes that its innovative and cost-effective solution can now be adopted by policymakers to address the improvement of Victorian tenements.

Improving Victorian tenement windows – shares Raymond, Maria, Rashia and Sylvia’s experiences of new windows. The report also lists nine methods for improving tenement windows, including DIY jobs as well as how to commission window professionals.