Heritage and the Climate Crisis: July and August 2022 News

A bumper edition of the news and publication highlights relating to Heritage and the Climate Crisis from across the months of July and August.

News from Heritage Declares

Recording of Heritage Declares Webinar: Heritage, Demolition and Embodied Carbon

In the month of July, we hosted our first webinar: Heritage, Demolition and Embodied Carbon. Thank you to all those who attended. If you want to catch up here is the webinar recording.

To find out more about the recent developments in the M&S case refer to the press release by SAVE and please consider donating to their Just Giving Page to help fund the campaign.

Other news from Heritage Declares

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 8th September 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.

Demolition of Non-Designated Heritage Asset Approved by City of York Council

Bluebeck House and semidetached cottages (site outlined in green. (Image: rightmove.co.uk)

The demolition of Bluebeck House, formerly the laundry serving York’s Clifton Hospital, as well as two semi detached cottages, and their replacement with a 72 bed care home has been approved by City of York Council.

Developers Torsion Care have had their scheme approved despite the structures being the last remnants of the buildings associated with the already demolished Clifton Hospital. The Committee Report on the application acknowledges that Bluebeck House is on a draft Local List held by York Civic Trust, and is considered to be a non-designated heritage asset. However it asserts that the List can be given no statutory weight as it has not been approved by the Council. Conversely, though the project represents “inappropriate development in the Green Belt” , the intention of the draft Local Plan is to remove the site from the Green Belt, and thus the Report can allow a special circumstance (as per paragraph 147 of the NPPF) to apply, outweighing any “inappropriateness.”

Further justification for demolition hinges upon the difficulty of achieving the required carbon savings through energy efficiency whilst maintaining a “historic building.” However, throughout the planning documents no consideration has been given to the carbon embodied in the existing building or to an assessment of the replacement building’s environmental performance.

More department stores in England may be given protected status

Sheffield’s former John Lewis and Cole Brothers building was given Grade-II listed status earlier this month. Photograph: Nick Cockman/Alamy

Historic England announces review of landmark buildings amid closures as campaigners call for ‘creative reinvention’. The announcement from Historic England comes amid widespread closures, compounded by the pandemic, economic turmoil and the rise of online shopping. This news comes after Historic England listed the Sheffield YRM-designed John Lewis store earlier this year.

Court orders UK government to explain how net zero policies will reach targets.

Image: Matthias Heyde

Following a successful legal challenge brought by individual litigant Joanna Wheatley, the Good Law ProjectClient Earth and Friends of the Earth, The Hon. Mr Justice Holgate determined in the High Court on 18th July 2022 that the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy (NZS) did not meet the requirements of the Climate Change Act (CCA) 2008.

The CCA sets the target for the reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050 and was amended in 2019 to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 100% lower than the 1990 baseline. The Net Zero Strategy was presented to Parliament in October 2019 (just ahead of COP 26) to fulfil Section 14 of the CCA: the government’s “duty  to report on proposals and policies for meeting carbon budgets.”

Friends of the Earth have provided a briefing on the judgement. In summary, three grounds of challenge were pursued in relation the CCA. Mr Justice Holgate allowed the claim for judicial review on two of them, finding that the NZS would only achieve up to 95% of the reductions required to meet the sixth carbon budget and that this information was not included in the NZS presented to Parliament. Furthermore, the risk to delivery of even 95% of the required carbon reductions had not been considered by the Minister signing off the report.

The High Court has ruled that the government must submit a report that is compliant with Section 14 of the CCA by 31st March 2023 and sets down criteria which must be included in future Section14 reports.

Architects’ Journal Retrofit Live

AJ Retrofit Live, taking place on 23rd November 2022 at 155 Bishopsgate EC2, is a brand-new event centred around the Architects’ Journal’s well-established awards programme and RetroFirst Campaign.

The AJ Retrofit Awards were established in 2010 and are the only awards focusing on retrofit design. The AJ RetroFirst campaign, prioritising retrofit over demolition and rebuild as well as calling for system change and political reform,  has changed the conversation about demolition and reuse of existing buildings since its launch in 2019.

This subject matter will be brought to life at Retrofit Live on November 23. This unique event will bring together architects, their built environment colleagues, developers, clients and lawmakers to identify the best retrofit and circular economy practices and discuss the transformational changes needed to upgrade the built environment in line with whole-life carbon principles.

The packed programme includes, amongst other topics, a panel discussion around retrofitting the UK’s housing stock, a presentation on The Joy of Retrofitting and a panel discussion entitled Breathing New Life into Historic Buildings. Retrofit Live will also feature a thriving exhibition area that complements these key messages and showcases cutting-edge solutions to support retrofit over demolition and replacement.

Book now to reserve your place and be part of a day of inspiration and collaboration.

Plastics, Sustainability and Systems: One Bin to Rule Them All

Wednesday 7 September  2022.11am – 12:30pm BST

Join ICON as Professor Mike Shaver, Director of Sustainable Futures, University of Manchester, takes us on an exploration of the complex nature of our plastic environment and how, by improving the sustainable fates of plastics from reuse to recycling and creating new monomers for degradable polymers, polymer chemistry has the opportunity to shape a new sustainable future.

Book here: https://www.icon.org.uk/events/environmental-sustainability-network-plastics-sustainability-and-systems.html

New CIBSE Committee to focus on retrofit in heritage buildings

CIBSE is launching a new committee dedicated to focusing retrofit in heritage buildings. As part of this launch they are running a series of webinars, with the first starting in September. Click here to find out more.

AJ Climate Champions podcast: Bob Prewett explains why Passivhaus is often too much for heritage buildings

Bob Prewett of Prewett Bizley architects shares a podcast discussing why passivhaus standards are not always suitable for heritage buildings.

Conservation Charities & Agencies combine forces to tackle the impact of climate change on the UK’s heritage

Seven UK organisations have announced a new partnership to help tackle the impact of climate change on historical sites and our cultural heritage, and to share expertise. The article provides an interesting read into the aims the partnership is working towards and the reasons why.

Any thoughts?

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

Heritage and the Climate Crisis: June 2022 News

News and publication highlights relating to Heritage and the Climate Crisis from across the month of June with some highlights of upcoming events, including Heritage Declare’s first webinar on Friday 15th.

News from Heritage Declares

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

This Friday, we are hosting our first webinar: Heritage, Demolition and Embodied Carbon. We currently have over 160 people signed up so big thank you to everyone who has already signed up! If you’d also like to join, use the link above to register and to find more info on the session please see here.

Other news from Heritage Declares

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 14th July 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.

The Role of Historic Buildings in Getting to Net Zero – Webinar Thursday 14th July 2022, 12-2pm 

The Role of Historic Buildings in Getting to Net Zero - Webinar

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/summer-autumn-2022-programme-392149 

The Historic Towns and Villages Forum are hosting a webinar this Thursday looking at the measures that councils, developers and design teams can adopt to mitigate climate change.

Speakers on Thursday 14th July 2022:

  • Welcome and Introduction, Louise Thomas, HTVF Director
  • You’ve declared a Climate Emergency… what next? Chris Pountney, Associate, Arup
  • How sustainability benefits can deliver heritage benefits, Emma Sharp, Heritage Planning Associate Director, Stantec (previously Barton Willmore)
  • Lessons Learned from the Retrofitting of Historic Buildings at Trinity Court, Cambridge, Oliver Smith, Director, 5th Studio

Work to demolish ‘iconic’ art deco house in North Wales gets underway.

57 Marine Drive, Rhos on Sea. (©Image Moxette, Flickr)

The Daily Post reports that a planning application for the demolition of an Art Deco house at Rhos on Sea and its replacement with an apartment block has been approved despite it being considered a non-designated heritage asset by the Bay of Colwyn Town Council, Historic Buildings and Places and The Twentieth Century Society. The consultation response from Conwy’s conservation officer  points to the importance of this Art Deco building whilst also stating that “it would be preferable if it could be reused rather than demolished, especially in our current climate emergency.”

An attempt to have the building protected from demolition by listing was unsuccessful, though CADW, in their recommendations, acknowledge that the building is a part of the twentieth century history of Rhos on Sea and the Conwy Coastline.

Though the design and access statement produced by JAR Architects to support the planning application claims that a “holistically sustainable strategy” has been used to inform the development, no mention of the embodied carbon – of either the building to be demolished or its replacement – was made.

Ultimately the demolition of an existing building and its replacement with a new building is supported by National and Local Planning Policy, therefore, despite the conservation officers reservation’s to the development on both heritage grounds and in terms of the climate emergency, demolition is now underway.

Resilience of buildings to challenges associated with climate change: report

Commissioned by the Welsh Government, this report by Prof Carolyn Hayles of Cardiff Metropolitan University aims to identify the climate change vulnerabilities specific to the Welsh built environment and provide practical recommendations for risk-based adaptation. It does so through drawing on wider UK and international research and as such is applicable to an audience beyond Welsh borders. It calls for the development of holistic climate change policies that ensure adaptation has equal footing with mitigation, and the interconnected nature of the two are fully understood. Click here to view the report.

Development threat for Edinburgh’s Category A listed Scottish Widows HQ

An aerial view of the site from above Dalkeith Road (Image C20society.org)

The C20 society strongly objects to the proposed residential redevelopment of 15 Dalkeith Road. Built in 1972-76 by the practice of Sir Basil Spence, Glover and Fergusson and winning a RIBA Award for Scotland in 1977 the building is now category A listed. It was vacated by Scottish Widows in 2020 and the building’s owners, Schroders Capital, are seeking to redevelop the site, demolishing much of the existing building to “free up land for residential development.”

The plans are outlined on a public consultation website that invites comments to be submitted prior to a planning application being made in August 2022.

The C20 Society object to the developer’s desire to demolish almost half of the buildings, replace the  remaining brown solar glass and bronze mullioned façade with a proprietary aluminium curtain wall system as well as the removal of the undercroft car park and boiler house which will result in the loss of much of the Sylvia Crowe designed landscape.

The consultation document points to the building’s poor environmental performance as a need for redevelopment stating that the zinc covered roof and elements of the façade are at the end of their ‘serviceable life.’ The C20 Society, on the other hand, are “concerned that the retain and upgrade option has been too quickly dismissed.”

Though the proposal aspires to create an exemplar of net zero carbon environmental performance, “minimising the project’s carbon footprint both in construction and during operation,” no consideration of the embodied carbon of the elements of the building to be demolished, or of the new construction, has yet appeared on any side of the debate about the future of the site

Energy Efficiency and Historic Buildings: Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) Case Studies

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are the Government’s legislated rating scheme to summarise and report energy performance of buildings. The domestic and non-domestic sectors use different methods in order to assess the energy efficiency of buildings. 

This report underlines the deficiencies of the current Energy Performance Certificates and associated calculation methodology, with a specific emphasis on those problems faced by historic and traditionally constructed properties.

Click here to read the report.

Designing for the Climate Emergency: A Guide for Architecture Students

The authors, from the UK, Denmark and Finland declare a climate emergency and that architects must be part of the radical change needed in response, underlining that design choices “we make affect people and communities thousands of miles away.”

The book tackles what the authors see as the quadruple challenges of the climate emergency: adapting to and mitigating climate change, creating restorative designs and improving climate justice. Reflecting architecture students’ years of study, six chapters focus on the climate emergency at each stage of the design process. 200 case studies have been selected that demonstrate high quality climate emergency design: projects that offer learning and inspiration are available on www.arch4change.com.

Designing for the Climate Emergency is available from RIBA Publishing, Routledge and Taylor & Francis Group

City of London sets out new planning guidance to tackle embodied carbon

140 Leadenhall Street (©Image Computer Consultant, Flickr)

The Architect’s Journal reports that The City of London Corporation (CoL) has begun  consultation to tackle the assessment of whole lifecycle carbon for all new major projects.

The Whole Lifecycle Carbon Optioneering planning advice note (PAN), produced by Hilson Moran, sets out how  proposals for new development must undertake an ‘optioneering’ exercise considering refurbishment and retention of fabric as well as more substantial development including demolition. Within the square mile, 76% of planning applications fall under the City’s definition of major development and it is these that are the focus of this PAN. A Whole Life Cycle Assessment (WLCA), using a standard methodology, will be required that considers different options (of varying degrees of intervention) in the commercial built environment to enable consistent evaluation by CoL and an informed discussion between them and the applicant.

Simon Sturgis, of Targeting Zero, is quoted by the Architect’s Journal as welcoming the PAN, though keen to point out that “the City must ensure that have planning officers suitably trained to review whole-life carbon submissions [and] take meaningful action to properly deliver on their carbon commitments.”

The six week consultation on the draft PAN began in mid June and comments arising will be returned to the planning and transport committee in the autumn. The note will then be incorporated into the Sustainability Supplementary Planning Document.

Any thoughts?

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

Grosvenor Estate cottages, Cheshire: a benchmark project for heritage retrofit

Grosvenor Estate cottages, Cheshire: a benchmark project for heritage retrofit, a project case study with signatory Donald Insalls Associates.

The climate emergency demands that the UK and other major economies make a very rapid transition to net zero carbon emissions. Improving the energy performance of Britain’s existing housing infrastructure is a crucial step towards that goal. The Government’s declared aim is to get all British homes up to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2035. With less than 30% currently at the target level, that’s a tall order; and many doubt whether it can be met without devastating effects on the significance of the nation’s historic housing stock.

This benchmark project by Heritage Declares signatories Donald Insall Associates, in collaboration with major landowners The Grosvenor Estate, will help to provide an objective answer to these questions. 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 – one that takes into account not just building fabric but also services and occupant behaviour, and that gives due weight to embodied energy and the environmental costs of manufacture, transport and waste.

A preliminary desktop research phase having been completed, the project team are now conducting air pressure tests and thermal imaging scans to determine how the building performs in its unaltered state. A variety of heating and insulation strategies will then be tested and assessed. The aim is to develop a viable and repeatable best-practice approach to retrofit that adds value in terms of reduced energy bills, and that can be implemented by Estate staff without the need for specialist consultants. A design guide for similar projects will also be prepared, along with a ‘user manual’ for tenants. Insalls hope that the results of the study will ‘challenge the current assumption that traditional buildings will always have a low value EPC’, and will thus help address ‘a clear danger to the viability of historic buildings’.

For more information on the project please read the project profile here. Find more about the work of Donald Insalls Associates on their website.

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