Scottish Traditional Building Forum

John McKinney, Coordinator of the Scottish Traditional Building Forum (STBF), introduces us to the invaluable work of the forum.

STBF is a group of forums across Scotland which aims to organise and deliver events which will raise the profile of traditional building skills and materials across all sections of population.

The activities can be broken down as follows:

  • Skills/Education
  • Repair and Maintenance/Energy Efficiency
  • Sharing Information
  • Celebrating the positive contribution of traditional buildings


STBF has organised a number of skills demonstrations aimed at giving local school children a hands on event to try some of the key traditional building skills.

These have been delivered in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Callander, Falkirk, Thornhill and with others planned for Perth and Kirkcaldy.

We have even engaged with a younger potential traditional building skills workforce with a mini-golf course featuring traditional building skills and materials which was situated on George Street, Edinburgh during the whole of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016.

It was an exceptionally busy attraction with the aim to bring traditional roofs, windows, stonework and other elements of traditional buildings down to ground level for people to interact with.

STBF will continue to look for innovative ways of promoting the traditional building sector and the need to repair and maintain traditional buildings.

Repair & Maintenance/Energy Efficiency

Many STBF skills events are held in high profile locations in the towns and cities and are used to demonstrate the traditional building skills to key influencers in young people’s career choices but also raise the profile for the need to repair and maintain traditional buildings.

The Scottish Government estimates that £600 million is spent on pre- 1919 buildings each year but the Scottish Housing Condition Survey highlights that 72% are not wind and watertight and this has shown little improvement over the years despite the considerable investment by owners.

STBF looks to raise the profile of the need to get the building envelope wind and watertight as a primary measure to making a home energy efficient while providing guidance on how to do this. This is mainly done by directing members of the public to existing publications including the Historic Environment Scotland Inform Guides.

Low Carbon Impact

Residential sector accounts for 33% of carbon emissions in Scotland. Of the existing domestic structures we have today, 85% will still be in use by 2050 Climate Change (Scotland) Act has specified an 80% reduction in carbon emissions.

Sharing Information

STBF has run a number of IHBC Accredited CPDs to architects, surveyors, local authorities and city heritage trusts. STBF sees this as a very positive development by enabling interaction across the supply chain.

Those to architects and surveyors have been organised in conjunction with Architecture and Design Scotland and Royal Incorporation of Chartered Surveyors respectively.

This has led to numerous requests to deliver CPDs to individual practices which the forum has been delighted to organise.

We are always looking to add to our portfolio of CPDs and are thankful to Stone Federation GB, National Federation of Roofing Contractors and Historic Environment Scotland for delivering these on behalf of the forum.

Celebrating the Positive Contribution of Traditional Buildings

STBF has also actively raised the profile of the traditional building skills and materials issues within the Scottish Parliament.

Several MSPs, including the Culture Secretary, have attended the skills events run by the forum and have taken very little encouragement to have a go at the trades themselves. This has proved very popular and memorable for the MSPs.

The Edinburgh Traditional Building Forum has just run its 5th Edinburgh Traditional Building Festival (part of the official Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and was once again sold out with over 700 attending the events.

We aim to raise the profile of traditional building skills and materials and the skills and materials required to ensure they are able to be maintained and enjoyed by future generations.

Emily Tracey (Vice Convenor of the Edinburgh Traditional Building Forum) organised a presentation to the Cross Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Construction which then formed the topic for a debate in the Scottish Parliament and the day was completed with a Garden Lobby Reception in the Scottish Parliament which was very well received and attended by numerous MSPs which included an address from the Culture Secretary.

Last year, STBF started involvement in Doors Open Day events and this is something we are looking to build on in the future. We ran an event in The Lighthouse, Glasgow and supported the event at The Engine Shed, Stirling. We will be returning to both of these venues this year and learning the lessons so we can deliver even more successful events.

John McKinney, Coordinator of the Scottish Traditional Building Forum