Three of Glasgow’s most well-known high-rise blocks have attracted international praise for their improved environmental performance during COP26.

Queens Cross Housing Association’s 314 homes at Cedar Court, in Woodside, were renovated to address fuel poverty. 

Since the completion of the project, the properties’ energy demand has been slashed by 80 per cent, according to developers.

Widower George McGavigan, 62, has lived at Cedar Court for 11 years in a three-bedroom apartment with his four children – Chelley, 23, Duncan, 20, Liam, 18, and Alexandria, 15.

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George said: “The refurbishment has really improved the place. I haven’t switched on my heating for two years as there is just no need. It has had a huge impact on bills. I used to have mould in the bathroom and that’s gone.”

The project’s success has attracted international attention through the summit, with delegates from Belgium visiting the buildings to learn about their environmental performance.

Maxime Couvreur, trade and investment counsellor at the UK Embassy of Belgium, said: “It is a priority for our Government to make the building industry more sustainable. It is also a priority to make our existing buildings more efficient. 

“We are very impressed by the work that’s been done here at Queens Cross and believe it to be industry best practice and will be taking many lessons away from the work that’s been done here.”

The £16 million project involved installation of low energy lighting, new insulation, modern controllable heating and hot water systems and triple glazed windows.

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Queen’s Cross’s director of property, enterprise & regeneration, Rona Anderson, said: “Our objective was to transform them into some of our most desirable homes, to improve residents’ lives and enhance the city skyline and our investment has paid off.”

The refurbishment, designed and managed by Collective Architecture, has also picked up an Architects’ Journal Retrofit Award. 

Project architect Rupert Daly said: “By retrofitting rather than demolishing, the whole life carbon footprint of these buildings is likely to be closer to net zero than most new builds.

“Retaining and retrofitting an existing building is always more sustainable and preferable to rebuilding one if at the same time the energy usage can be reduced through fabric improvement.”

He added: “About 80 per cent of buildings in Scotland are still going to be in use in 2050 so if we’re going to get our building stock to net zero, what already exists has to be retrofitted and done well. It is better for the environment to use what is there rather than than demolish it and start again.”