energy efficiency

Using Thermal Imaging when retrofitting existing buildings to be energy efficient

There is growing awareness across the UK and Europe on the number of abandoned buildings currently empty when there is such a high demand for residential properties. In the UK more than 700,000 homes lay vacant, with 1.8 million in Germany, 2 million in both France and Italy, and 3.4 million in Spain. With some businesses downsizing their offices as post-pandemic attitudes to work cause a shift to hybrid and home working, there is potential to repurpose this disused space to tackle the home shortage across the continent as high rises and offices in the world’s capitals sit empty.

In order to do this successfully older buildings will need – at a minimum – to be brought up to standard when it comes to energy efficiency and insulation. However, as concern about both energy bills and climate change grows, developers should be looking to go beyond the standard to ensure that homes are affordable to live in and limit impact on the environment.

Understanding the actual performance of existing buildings is key to being able to design retrofit solutions and optimise the use of materials in the new build. One method of understanding performance levels in real time is using thermography

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging can be used when looking to develop existing buildings, to see where heat is ‘escaping’ and so where thermal insulation should be retrofitted with insulating materials. This might include well-known standard forms of insulation such as cavity wall insulation or loft insulation, but also other key areas where additions are being made to the building such as new external envelopes or exiting features and listed facades being retained and supported by new internal structures. This is also the case for new features such as balconies or plants requiring structural penetrations through to the main building frame

Thermal bridge at windows, doors and roof

Using thermal imaging technology to measure how the building is performing in terms of insulation now, takes the guess work out of thermal modelling – predicting how it will perform in terms on insulation in the future without any additional insulation or with the insulation planned.

Farrat thermal breaks thermal image

Why is retrofitting so important?

The government in the UK has been widely criticised for lack of action in retrofitting existing buildings with insulation, with a focus on energy efficiency for new buildings.

However, building designers and investors are seeing that in order to repurpose or develop these buildings into ones that people want to buy or rent, they need to be affordable to live in. Energy prices are one of the people’s leading concerns for both now and the future.

A survey conducted by YouGov in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and Spain found extensive public support for new regulations to increase energy savings in homes, stating they wanted to buy and rent energy-efficient homes. A quarter of UK households are looking at improving the efficiency of their homes in response to the surging cost of energy bills. Energy efficiency is of genuine importance, especially across the EU.


Developing abandoned buildings and repurposing buildings no longer in demand is a sound environmentally friendly measure when creating new domestic and commercial properties by using brownfield sites and reusing existing structures and materials.

However, it is only by using technology such as thermal imaging to measure energy efficiency and understand what’s really going on under the skin of these homes and commercial buildings that will maximise their positive impact on reducing energy usage and minimising their carbon footprint.

Sustainable design

On a mission to ensure energy efficiency in building developments

Whether you’re redeveloping or repurposing existing buildings, Farrat Structural Thermal Breaks are an essential component for any energy-efficient building. For more information on integrating thermal break solutions into structural connections, visit our Structural Thermal Break hub or one of our dedicated portals:

Architects Portal

Structural Engineers Portal

Buyers Portal


Project Showcase – Structural Thermal Breaks for energy efficiency and fire safety

Over the last few months, we have witnessed a growing public interest in energy efficiency in parallel to increasing numbers of building designers who are looking to go beyond the standard when it comes to insulating building connections in a wide range of building types. As a result, we remain busy with a large number of Structural Thermal Breaks projects as we head into Q2. Take a look at a few of our most recent thermal bridging projects below.

Primark Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Primark store in Belfast was previously based in the Bank Building in central Belfast, however, it was tragically destroyed in a fire in 2018, with firefighters taking 4 days to totally extinguish the flames.

The COVID19 outbreak also meant significant delays to the starting of the rebuild and renovation of the building, but now works are well and truly underway. Fire safety is a priority for the redevelopment project, alongside structural integrity and retrofitting the historic Grade B1-listed five-story building with modern insulation.

Farrat A2 fire- Structural Thermal Break material Farrat TBF has been selected for use across the project, to provide premium-grade protection against thermal bridging, with non-combustible properties.

Primark Belfast

Hockliffe Road Care Home, Leighton Buzzard, England

Hockliffe Road Care Home

Fire safety is often a key concern when looking to house those who would find evacuation in the instance of a fire a challenge.

Hockliffe Road Care Home is currently being constructed on the site of a former police station, and will deliver a modern 63-bedrooms development built to the highest sustainable standards using Passivhaus criteria.

The scheme will also integrate Farrat TBF Structural thermal breaks, as Passivhaus certified building components.

Golden Jubilee Hospital Clydebank, Scotland

The three-story expansion of the NHS Golden Jubilee in Clydebank, Scotland, is set to include theatre suites, orthopaedic facilities, outpatient and pre-operative spaces, a surgical admissions and recovery unit, a new endoscopy unity, and a sterilising and processing department.

Farrat is working with developers on the dramatic entrance steelwork, ensuring that structural thermal bridges are eradicated to enable the hospital to maintain its high energy efficiency.

Projections involving steel, including balconies, outside shelters, façades, and entrance features, create additional challenges when it comes to ensuring cold external temperatures do not affect the environment inside, and using Farrat Structural Thermal Breaks in this growing health facility will do that.

Energy efficiency in modern building design

Energy efficiency is front and centre in the news at the moment, with increasing utility bills creating a major concern for both individuals and businesses. Building designers are now looking to go beyond following the mandatory regulatory requirements and future proof the use of the buildings at an affordable rate.

Golden Jubilee Hospital Clydebank, Scotland

Whether buildings are using the increasingly specified steel structure or using concrete, Farrat Structural Thermal Breaks are an essential component for any energy-efficient building.

For more information on integrating thermal break solutions into structural connections, visit our Structural Thermal Break hub or one of our dedicated portals: