Heritage and the Climate Crisis: May 2022 News

News and publication highlights relating to Heritage and the Climate Crisis from across the month of May.

Throughout May, embodied carbon and retrofit has featured heavily in news about the built environment with the AJ Retrofit Awards announced and a newreport from the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee (ECA) which has sharply criticised government inaction on embodied carbon. We have also published our latest case study from one of our signatories and have an exciting announcement about an upcoming webinar from us!

News from Heritage Declares

Heritage Declares Webinar: Heritage, Demolition and Embodied Carbon, 15th July, 12:30pm- 1:30pm. Sign up here.

In exciting news, we are hosting our first webinar. Sparked by the recent emblematic case of the M&S Oxford Street store, Heritage Declares and the Welsh School of Architecture invite you to a live webinar on the subject of Heritage, Demolition and Embodied Carbon, with contributions from:

Henrietta Billings- Director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, who commissioned the report on the M&S Oxford Street store
Julie Godefroy- Sustainability Consultant, CIBSE Head of Sustainability
Chris Cummings- Savills Head of Technical Sustainability, Sustainable Design & Director of “Savills Earth”

The session will be chaired by Heritage Declares coordinator and Course leader of the MSc in Sustainable Building Conservation, Dr Chris Whitman, with support from fellow Heritage Declares coordinators.

Other news from Heritage Declares

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 14th May at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here. We’d love to see more people!

We are also still looking for submissions for our Case Studies page on the website, thank you for all the submissions so far! If you have any case studies you’d like to send us, please email us here.

Building to net zero: costing carbon in construction

Heygate Estate during its demolition. Source: Lotte Sheedy

A report from the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee (ECA) has sharply criticised government inaction on embodied carbon.

The Architect’s Journal highlights that the report’s key recommendation to government  is the introduction of mandatory whole-life carbon assessments for buildings to encourage the use of low carbon materials and the circular economy. The report recommends the use of the RICS methodology to undertake the Whole Life Carbon Assessments that this would require. Pointing to government claims that it was promoting reuse and retrofit, the report said it had found little evidence of this and that the UK was lagging behind other countries in addressing embodied carbon.

The BBC’s commentary on the report appears to be more optimistic considering that the battle against demolition is already underway.

However the report highlights the continued shortage of workers in the energy efficiency and retrofit sector (a point repeatedly emphasised by the ECA to the government), in particular the skills gap in the measurement of embodied and whole-life carbon and the use of low carbon materials. It also recommends that Environmental Product Declarations for materials, to enable their environmental impacts to be assessed, must become more commonplace and the retrofit and reuse of buildings must be prioritised (including VAT incentivisation).

AJ Retrofit Awards 2022 winners revealed

16 Chart Street, Image: Edmund Sumner

The Architect’s Journal has announced that Ian Chalke Architects has won two awards at the AJ Retrofit Awards 2022 for 16 Chart Street. The project was the winner in the ‘workplace under £5m’ category and also won the overall ‘Retrofit of the Year 2022’ award with one judge commenting ‘I’d love to work there’.

The practice worked closely with the client Heyne Tillet Steel (who also acted as the structural engineers)  to refurbish and extend the 1930s masonry warehouse, located in Hoxton, into a new workspace incorporating bike storage, showers, places to exercise and eat. The project retained 86% of the existing structure, saving 362 KgCO2/m2 and, from feasibility to post occupancy, was underpinned by a data rich analysis. The post-occupancy data is being assessed and fed into an ongoing study of structural timber efficiency in partnership with the University of Sheffield, the results of which will be made public.

Heritage Declares: Case Study Highlight, Grosvenor Estate cottages, Cheshire: a benchmark project for heritage retrofit

Heritage Declares organisation signatory Donald Insalls Associates in collaboration with major landowners The Grosvenor Estate has been working on a benchmark retrofit project.  A Grosvenor-owned property on a rural estate in Cheshire, comprising a pair of red-brick semi-detached cottages built in 1896, is being used as the test-bed for a ‘whole house’ approach to sustainability-led retrofit.  Find out more about the project here.

Do you have a project you’d like to highlight?  Please email us here.

Medieval church remains under threat at Anglia Square – SAVE backs calls for listing

The coursed flint wall thought to be part of St Olave’s eastern retaining wall. Credit: SAVE Britain’s Heritage

SAVE Britain’s Heritage, an independent voice in conservation fighting for threatened historic buildings and sustainable reuses, has highlighted the potential demolition of what may be the remains of a medieval parish church in Anglia Square, Norwich. The possible remains are now thought to be incorporated amongst a complex of flint warehouses due to be demolished as part of redevelopment plans by Weston Homes. SAVE is supporting an application for listing which makes the case that the church remains are of high historic value “as one of the rare surviving remains of an Anglo-Scandinavian Church in Norwich north of the River Wensum, an area identified as an early Anglo-Scandinavian enclosure in Norwich”.

Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill

On 11 May 2022 the Government introduced to the House of Commons the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. Chapter 3 of Part 3 of the Bill includes provisions which set out the level of regard to be given to certain heritage assets in the exercise of planning functions. A summary of the bill can be found here. Whilst the bill may appear forward thinking, it provides a distinct lack of guidance and change in relation to the environment. With the power to make a real change within the planning system, the bill fails to put adequate emphasis on the importance of our existing building stock. We encourage signatories to raise awareness of this issue and help push for clearer commitments through the consultation with the Department of Leveling Up, Housing and Communities should the opportunity arise.

Reduce your impact on the planet (AND reduce your cost of living)

Packed full of achievable and clever ways to reduce your impact on the planet, Low Cost/No Cost Tips for Sustainability in Cultural Heritage is simple, clear and easy to follow. It is stuffed with actions that you can take straight away, for little or no cost, that will have an immediate effect, regardless of whether you work in heritage or not. Inspiring, practical and brimming with great ideas, tips and tricks for living and working sustainably.

Heritage Declares Co-Ordinator, Lorraine, was moved to make these tips available to help you reduce their impact on the climate and the environment, to inspire and empower people to make a difference. Together we can make the changes needed. Every person can make a difference.

The tips in ‘Low cost/No Cost Tips for Sustainability in Cultural Heritage’ as well as helping to save the planet will help you to combat the rising cost of living by saving. Since putting the tips into action in her own life and work, Lorraine reduced her energy bill by £22.50 a month.  Available from all online bookstores including: 

  • World of Books (a BCorp)                                         
  • Amazon                                                                      
  • Barnes and Noble                                                      
  • Preservation Equipment with free delivery

Any thoughts?

Have you got any thoughts on the April News on Heritage and the Climate Crisis? Or suggestions for the May post? Leave them in the comments below or tweet us @HeritageDecl

Heritage and the Climate Crisis: November News 2021

News and publication highlights relating to Heritage and the Climate Crisis from across the month of November. With COP26 dominating the headlines we weren’t light for coverage on the Climate Crisis this month. From the rejection of the Tulip to the publication of the Historic England Risk Register, see the Heritage Declares news highlights below.

The Tulip rejected at appeal- Big news for Heritage and the Climate Crisis

The controversial Tulip scheme in London was rejected over embodied carbon and heritage concerns. This Architects Journal article provides insight into the milestone decision. Great progress in light of COP26.

Historic England Climate Change Resources

Historic England have recently created a Climate Change: Mitigation, Adaptation and Energy Measures page on their website. A great collection of resources, networks and campaigns to showcase how the historic environment can positively contribute to overall global sustainability. We are delighted to have been included as an example campaign addressing how climate affects heritage and how heritage, and old buildings can be part of creative solutions.

STBA From Retrofit to Regeneration

The Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (STBA) have recently published their guide ‘From Retrofit and Regeneration Publication’. An essential publication which calls for the UK to replace its policies and programmes to ‘Retrofit’
the built environment (merely to improve energy efficiency) with a strategy which uses
a much wider set of objectives. Including health, heritage, community cohesion, local
employment, cleaning and re-greening the environment, transport, and flood

POSTbrief on Reducing the whole life carbon impact of buildings

UK Parliament published a POSTbrief on Reducing the whole life carbon impact of buildings. The report usefully summarises the concerns and priorities of built environment professionals when considering the reduction of emissions, focusing on the need for reuse, whole life carbon analysis, VAT to be reduced in building refurbishments, a better vetting process for materials and polices to drive more resource-efficient construction and use of existing low-carbon building materials. It is reassuring to see the report champion the reuse and re-purposing of buildings. It asks us to reconsider the need for a new building in the first instance and give more consideration to retrofitting and repurposing existing buildings. 

We have reusable cups, bags and bottles: so why are our buildings still single use?

The Conversation published an article entitled We have reusable cups, bags and bottles: so why are our buildings still single use? An informative piece on why the built environment needs to be at the centre of the circular economy.

Heritage Creative Interview with Heritage Declares on Sustainability and Digital Heritage

Heritage Declares is featured in Heritage Creative’s latest Heritage Briefing: Increase Footfall with Digital looking at Heritage Tourism and sustainability as well as our aims for COP 26.

Demolition of Oxford Street M&S

Disappointing news came towards the end of the month with the demolition and rebuild of Oxford Street M&S. Interesting articles have stemmed from the decision with a clear push for reuse and retrofit, including this article in the Guardian. Save Britain’s Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society have put together a petition to save and re-use the flagship store.

Historic England’s Risk Register

Historic England Risk Register has been published. It is reassuring to see so many buildings taken off the Risk Register this year. These schemes demonstrate how heritage can play a role in our move towards Net Zero 2050 through reuse and avoiding the high carbon emissions associated with demolishing existing structures and building new

Any thoughts?

Have you got any thoughts on the November News on Heritage and the Climate Crisis? Or suggestions for the December post? Leave them in the comments below or tweet us @HeritageDecl