Heritage and the Climate Crisis: November 2022 News

Welcome to this year’s last edition of the Heritage and Climate Crisis Newsletter! Thank you all for supporting Heritage Declares across the last year, whether that has been volunteering, attending events or subscribing to the newsletter, it is all appreciated! Wish wish you all a Happy Holidays!

Here are the news and publication highlights relating to Heritage and the Climate Crisis from across the month of November .

News from Heritage Declares

Edge Debate 135 – Heritage & Net Zero: A wicked problem?

On the 17th October, Heritage Declares signatory and coordinator Steven Bee chaired an Edge Debate on the challenge of retrofitting our heritage dwellings. The event was organised by Kerry Mashford OBE and the participating speakers were Paul Norman of Clarion Housing Group, Esther Robinson Wild, of Robinson Wilde Consulting, Crispin Edwards, of Historic England, Peter A. Cox, of Carrig Conservation International, Anna Beckett, of Symmetrys and Chris Jofeh, Consultant to Arup and Chair of the independent Decarbonisation of Homes in Wales Advisory Group. A recording of the debate can be viewed here along with downloads of their presentations.

Other news from Heritage Declares

Our next meeting 8th December will be cancelled due to Christmas commitments within the team. The next meeting is being held Thursday 12th January at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here. We’d love to see more people!

Heritage at Risk Register

Historic England have just published their Heritage at Risk Register 2022. Whilst the list showcases some of the amazing work being done to take our heritage off the list, it also highlights the continuing challenges we face, in particular the climate crisis.

“As the threat of climate change grows, the reuse and sensitive upgrading of historic buildings and places becomes ever more important. Finding new uses for buildings and sites rescued from the Register avoids the high carbon emissions associated with demolishing structures and building new”- Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England.

AJ Retrofit Live 2022

The Architects’ Journal’s first Retrofit Live one-day conference was held at 155 Bishopsgate EC2 on 23 November. (Aptly, the venue was built after a 1985 public inquiry approved the demolition of the 1865 Broad Street station and large parts of the listed Liverpool Street Station. The latter is again subject to demolition proposals by Network Rail).

The event was very well attended particularly by architects and engineers, and several speakers expressed gratified surprise at the degree of interest.

The day before, the AJ published an opinion by Will Arnold, Head of Climate Action at the Institute of Structural Engineers, calling for creation of a ‘Grade III’ listing in the English planning system, to protect, in effect, almost all existing buildings with a presumption against demolition. The piece found a lot of pickup at the conference; yet despite the explicit connection it makes between the heritage value and carbon value of existing buildings, heritage was little discussed on its own terms at Retrofit Live.

The M&S Oxford Street Public Inquiry is proving to be emblematic of the planning system’s demolition dilemma, and was widely referenced. Journalist, Helen Barrett and architect and Policy Exchange housing lead, Ike Ijeh, were forthright in their ideas in a session about high-profile demolitions about resisting this waste through the planning system, and defended the worth of heritage value as part of this fight, alongside the embodied carbon perspective. 

Other highlights included: 

  • A session on deconstruction and reuse of building elements using a ‘material passport’ system, led by Rachel Hoolahan of Orms. 
  • Celebrated social housing architect, Kate Macintosh, exposing the harm to housing justice and our stewardship of the built environment by the inflation of land values caused by capitalistic speculation, subsidised by government policy.
  • Two talks on the theme of the aesthetics of retrofit: architect Cassion Castle on ‘The Joy of Retrofit’, its rigorous approach to detail, and celebration of juxtaposition as a swing away from the modernist model of the heroic architect and his singular object; and Stirling Prize-winner Níall McLaughlin’s epic and profound keynote sharing ’14 Postcards from an Alternative History of Architecture’ – a history of careful alteration and ongoing stewardship of buildings, but which included a broadside against heritage understood as preservation in aspic.

Climate Emergency Conservation Area Toolkit

Architects Climate Action Network has recently published the Climate Emergency Conservation Area Toolkit which aims to provide methodology of updating conservation area guidance which will allow more complete climate emergency retrofitting. It addresses aspects of retrofitting heritage and non-heritage in Conservation Areas which involve planning.  These are generally exterior building changes that impact appearance of the Conservation Area. The toolkit features a worked example of the London Borough of Islington with a step by step process and audit advice for various building elements.

The document is an invaluable piece of guidance which will hopefully be taken on and adapted to suit other conservation areas and guide best practice.

There is a launch event being held on Tuesday 6th December, sign up here.

York Minster leads the way with PV roof installation plans

York Minster is one of the first major cathedrals to submit plans to install photovoltaic panels on the roof of the South Quire Aisle which originally dates from 1361 but was renewed after the 1829 fire, producing 75,000 kilowatt-hours of power every year. The application, led by Caroe Architecture was submitted to York City Council. The plans will be the largest of its type on any cathedral in the UK and follow the successful projects at Bradford, Gloucester and Salisbury cathedrals.

The application, which follows extensive consultations between York Minster and key stakeholders, including City of York Council and Historic England, comes as the Minster, like many others, faces significant increases in the cost of energy. Read more about the plans here.

COP27 and Heritage

An article from the Heritage Research Hub outlines the outcomes of the discussions at COP27 in relation to Heritage. In a first the documents from the conference state heritage as being directly ask risk from climate change. This acknowledgement is a huge first step, but it will take charities and continued rallying to make sure heritage remains being ‘on the list’ of impacts climate change is having and actions governments need to be taking to protect it.

Photo: Daniel Fleck

In The Art Newspaper, Joe Ware drew attention to the dire warning of Egypt’s antiquities minister that the country’s internationally important ancient sites “will be gone” in 100 years because of the accelerating effects of the changing climate.  The minister made the comments in the run up to Cop27, held at Sharm el-Sheikh in early November, and the first time the conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been held in his country.

Ware pointed to the limited commitments made so far on the integral contribution of culture to climate action and of the changing climate to cultural sustainability – despite the academic and sector consensus on this. Is a taboo blocking adaptation on the ground in museums and cultural institutions? Ware also drew a link to the 40th-anniversary Mondiacult (the Unesco World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development) conference, held in Mexico City this September. Delegates bemoaned the failure to realise a leadership role for the Culture sector on the world stage, and the conference called for culture to be incorporated “as a specific objective in its own right” among the next UN sustainable development goals.

Culture and heritage found a new prominence at this Cop27 (for more on that, read the piece from our partners, CHN, above); yet the sector is still failing to lead by example, and time is finally running out for our oldest irreplaceable artefacts.

AJ Architecture Awards

Image: BDP.

The winners of the 2022 Architect’s Journal Awards have been announced. Across the eighteen categories, seven projects involved the conservation, repair and adaption of seven existing structures with six of them classified as heritage assets.

Annual Carbon emissions per m2 were included amongst the projects’ details, though no figure was provided for Embodied Emissions.

BDP’s repurposing of a dilapidated former school sports hall in Rochdale was a stand out winner for the School’s Category, prompting the judges to declare: ‘On a tight budget, this project creates a community space in the heart of the school, and it’s making such a difference.’

A holistic, low-carbon approach to the refurbishment was taken, minimising alteration of the existing building fabric and maximising offsite construction, standardising panel sizes to reduce waste and using natural materials wherever possible.

Plywood, sheep’s wool insulation and acoustic wood wool panels were used to create insulated and airtight ‘sheds’ on either side of the hall that locally improve the building performance to create a thermally efficient and comfortable environment. Existing materials such as the sports flooring have were retained and restored wherever possible and the trust obtained donated furniture from local businesses.

Longlisted for the rebirth project category of Dezeen Awards the design utilised low-tech, low-carbon construction to create flexible teaching modules, allowing for the involvement of students, apprentices and the local community in the construction process.

London Demolitions and Proposals

As series of proposals have recently been summitted involving major changes to some of London’s most iconic heritage buildings.

Extensive redevelopment plans for Liverpool Street have been unveiled which will see the modernisation of existing infrastructure, however these plans have been met with strong objections from Historic England with fears from other heritage bodies that the scheme could overwhelm the listed buildings. More information can be found here. The most recent development has seen listing upgrades to the station to include much of the 1992 fabric, despite plans to demolish it.

Westminster City Council has approved plans for the renovations of The National Gallery in London with the gallery gaining a new entrance. Historic England raised “strong concerns” about the works and said the Sainsbury Wing was “a vital cultural asset” of “outstanding heritage significance”. The group said it believed the plans would cause “harm” to the protected buildings. Despite this, the plans were unanimously approved the proposals on Tuesday and said the level of heritage harm caused would be “less than substantial” and outweighed by the public benefits. Read more about the plans here.

As the Museum of London prepares to vacate the Powell and Moya building, the debate on its future and potential for repurposing continues. The City of London – the local authority-cum-business enterprise that owns the site – wants to replace them with 780,000 square feet of offices and other uses. Residents of the Barbican and other objectors say this would be a wasteful and environmentally damaging overdevelopment of the site, contrary to the City’s own policies and proclamations about climate. Read more about the debate here.

Historic Environment Forum: Sustainability and New Zero Resources

Image: HEF

The HEF Sustainability & Climate Change Task Group has bought together heritage and climate change professionals to increase access to net zero expertise and to share crucial learning on sustainability and net zero progress.

They provide a Net Zero Resource List, a Net Zero Guide, a document highlighting the positive contributions that heritage organisations can make to help adaptation to a changing world and a Task Group Page which is a map based resource providing more information on the forum’s priorities. There are also videos and webinars covering HEF Sustainability and Climate Change Task Group meetings, covering net zero planning and implementation as well as links to presentation slides of the meetings.

This is a fantastic repository of good practice, lessons learned and interaction between different groups and sectors that anyone can draw on.

Glasgow M&S store threatened with demolition as student block plans unveiled

Main entrance and frontage of Marks and Spencer in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, 2011 (Image: STV)

The Architect’s Journal reports that new practice Matt Brook Architects have unveiled plans to replace a branch in central Glasgow with a 500-home student block. The development would sweep aside the Art Deco block to meet the burgeoning demand for student housing.

Understandably, the nature of retail is changing, and historic department stores must evolve to cater to a new mix of uses other than the museums envisioned by Andy Warhol. However the proposed demolition of M & S’s Sauchiehall Street Art Deco building, which used a modular façade system that formed the basis of over 40 Marks & Spencer stores around Britain, comes hard on the heels of the public enquiry surrounding the proposed demolition of its Oxford Street building. It shows that the organisation, the architects and the developer – Fusion Students – simply fail to understand the environmental impacts of demolition and replacement. Or perhaps they believe their shareholder’s feel dividends are more important than a safe world in which to spend them.

Any thoughts?

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

Heritage and the Climate Crisis: September and October 2022 News

A bumper edition of the news and publication highlights relating to Heritage and the Climate Crisis from across the months of September and October. This newsletter takes a slightly different approach to usual, focusing on long form content from both Chris Whitman and James Verner.

News from Heritage Declares

Heritage Declares speaks out at the opening of the M&S Oxford Street Public Inquiry

Photo of M&S store, taken from SAVE

Tuesday 25th October saw the opening of the public inquiry into the proposed demolition and replacement by Marks and Spencer of the non-designated heritage asset Orchard House, which is adjacent to grade II* Selfridges and is bordered by two conservation areas. The project was called in by the Secretary of State following SAVE Britain’s Heritage’s campaign which has focused on the embodied carbon that will be lost and the large carbon emissions that will be released from the demolition and new build.

Heritage Declares, represented by Dr Chris Whitman, were there alongside colleagues from ACAN and Architects Declare to speak against the demolition and support SAVE. In total, eight third party attendees spoke out in support of SAVE, including a developer, a retail specialist, architects, and a Westminster councillor. No third parties spoke in favour of M&S’s proposed scheme. Both sides will call witnesses over the coming days, with the inquiry due to finish Friday 4th November.

There follows the statement given by Dr Whitman on behalf of Heritage Declares.

“I am here today in my role as a signatory and a coordinator of Heritage Declares Climate and Ecological Emergency.

We are a non-affiliated group of heritage practitioners who have come together to urge the sector to react more quickly and effectively to the climate and ecological emergency.

We are a counterpart to groups such as Architects Declare and Engineers Declare, of which the architects and engineers of the proposal are signatories, and work together with these organisations to achieve common goals.

Since the launch of our 10-point declaration in 2019, 55 heritage organizations and 311 individuals have signed.

Whilst there is not time to cover all 10 points of our declaration, I wish to highlight the first 4 which are most relevant to this inquiry:

1. Be a platform for change

by using our prominent position to tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, promote environmental awareness and action, and foster the cultural changes that are required in light of the immense challenges ahead.

2. Shift conservation priorities

by actively seeking out opportunities to adapt heritage sites so as to reduce their carbon footprint and promote biodiversity, without harming their cultural significance.

3. Build and share the evidence

by seeking a fuller understanding of the intersection between cultural heritage and the environment, promoting rigorous open-source research into carbon reduction, climate adaptation, and biodiversity in heritage contexts.

4. Conserve embodied resources

by bringing whole-life carbon and energy efficiency analyses to bear on the choices we make and the causes we support; for instance, by advocating an evidence-based policy of retaining, maintaining, repairing and adapting existing buildings – whatever their formal heritage values – as an alternative to wasteful cycles of demolition.

In July of this year we organised a webinar in support of retention of the buildings in question. 211 people registered to attend, predominantly from the UK but with representation across Europe.

We concur with the report prepared by Sturgis that the proposed demolition and rebuild are contrary to National Planning Policy, the London Plan, and Westminster City Council’s Planning Policy. They do not address the current climate emergency and result in the loss of a prominent non-designated heritage asset. We agree with Historic England that the proposed redevelopment would result in harm to the setting of the grade II* Selfridges and to the heritage of the UK’s primary retail street.

Moreover, I wish to draw attention to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge Checklist which calls for the prioritisation of the refurbishment and retrofit of existing buildings where possible

Historic England research has demonstrated that substantial savings in operational carbon emissions can be made through well-considered retrofit and that the speed at which carbon savings are made has a significant impact on addressing the climate emergency. This speed is vitally important, as the International Panel on Climate Change’s latest report states that carbon emissions must peak by 2025.

We have studied the proof of evidence provided by the architects and whilst we agree further information has been provided on the retrofit options explored in section 4, we are still of the opinion that the exploration was biased in favour of new build and there has not been sufficient investigation of how the existing buildings might be reconfigured to provide the desired public benefits and commercial requirements. Rather the work undertaken consistently sets out to prove they cannot. Given the experience of the architects in extensive remodelling, as demonstrated in Kensington, the options for refurbishment appear tentative. On a positive note, their report concludes that selective demolition could provide the same servicing solution as the proposed new build, and that new services and upgrades to the facades could yield better operational carbon characteristics. We would add to this that public realm improvements in the creation of the Granville Place garden, widening of Orchard Street pavements and east-west permeability are all feasible. That ceiling heights could be addressed through the introduction of double-height spaces or atrium. That the claimed limited lifespan of the existing buildings can be addressed through retrofit. That selective demolition could provide an improved setting to Hesketh House and that the creative remodelling or replacement of the Neale House and 23 Orchard Street facades could create a harmonious composition achieving the desired identity for Marks and Spencer’s, one that is more consistent with their Plan A sustainability policy. In short, we believe that the site offers an excellent opportunity for the retailer to commission a high quality, world leading retrofit, thereby demonstrating its commitment to tackling the climate emergency.

Commitments to a transition to a circular economy and prioritising the reuse of our built environment has been made in writing by Westminster, London, the UK and the UN, however we have yet to see much in the way of practical application of these policies. Climate change cannot be addressed through words alone, these must be put into action.”

Orchard House left facing Selfridges, with Hesketh House behind. ©Whitman 2022
Opening of the Public Inquiry, with M&S team to the left and SAVE to the right ©Whitman 2022
Other news from Heritage Declares

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 10th November at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here. We’d love to see more people!

Historic England, Sector to Net Zero survey

Historic England is consulting Heritage Organisations to find out their plans for achieving Net Zero, the types of barriers they are facing and the type of support they would like.

They are looking for responses from heritage organisations in England that:
– Manage or run heritage sites (e.g. industrial heritage, historic houses, maritime heritage etc…)
– Provide heritage services (e.g. archaeology, architectural heritage or conservation companies, consultancies, professional associations, heritage preservation trusts  etc…).

Please find the survey here.

Hebridean Blackhouse vs Volume Housebuilder Home – energy profiles compared.

LHS – Hebridean Blackhouse. RHS – Winstone Detached House (images www.architectsjournal.co.uk).

Barnabas Calder and Florian Urban, writing in the Architects’ Journal  compare the energy profiles of a pre-modern Hebridean Blackhouse – a vernacular typology common in the highlands of Scotland and in use until the 1970s – with an example of a new two storey house such as the Winstone designed by David Wilson Homes in 2010.

Seeking to find architectural traditions relevant to construction in a climate emergency they feel it is instructive to look at building typologies favoured before the carbon economy roared into life.

The Arnol Blackhouse (Isle of Lewis), illustrates the evolution of a building type for a low energy society centred on a subsistence lifestyle. 20m2 of living space is arranged around a central, peat burning hearth, used by more than six people and flanked by sleeping alcoves as well as a byre for animals. As little energy as possible was expended in the collection and modification of local construction materials which were used ‘as found’. Thick, insulating walls were constructed of fieldstones and timber roof structures thatched with reed or straw, the ridge beam sloping to ensure animals’ body heat migrated from the byre to the living space. The lack of a chimney retained the heat from the hearth in the building, the peat smoke permeating through the thatch inhibiting infestation by rodents and insects as well as repelling midges.

As Calder and Urban point out these buildings acquired the name blackhouse (Gaelic: taigh dubh) in the mid 19th Century to distinguish them from the more modern whitehouses (Gaelic: taigh geal) that were appearing which were characterised by their (high embodied energy) render as well as their pristine interior enabled by the use of a chimney (which also removed 90% of the fire’s heat).

Whereas blackhouses could be continually repaired by their inhabitants and the surrounding community, contemporary buildings incorporate proprietary components requiring specialist installation and maintenance.

Importantly, they illuminate the way in which modern housing estates shore up dependency on car travel and its associated emissions whereas the inhabitants of the blackhouses tended to walk short distances in their day to day lives.

They point out that the embodied carbon emissions of today’s volume housing is ‘in another league’ when compared to the embodied emissions of pre industrial vernacular housing asserting that “if zero carbon housing was possible to achieve with the simple technologies and constrained resources of the pre-modern Hebrides, it’s certainly possible today.” Furthermore the circularity of materials in blackhouse construction was almost complete – the Arnol residents, for example, had to move their village three times between 1795 and 1853.

Whilst few would advocate returning to the localism of pre-industrial rural life and living in a one room dwelling with livestock, the authors feel that the adoption of low or zero carbon materials must replace high embodied carbon cement and steel. This, combined with cutting car travel, eschewing the polluting insulation systems required by current volume housing and focusing on keeping the body warm rather than its surrounding environment will all contribute to a net zero future. Therefore blackhouses can offer inspiration for lower tech solutions, as well as allowing us to celebrate repair and the signs of use, as an alternative to aspiring to a new detached house built on a greenfield site.

Costing Carbon in Construction

LHS – Demolition of RBS building, Edinburgh (Alan Wilson). RHS – Residential area, Baluchistan province, Pakistan (Fida Hussain – Getty Images).

Will Ing, writing in The Architects’ Journal, gives an encouraging account of the Government’s response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) report, Building to Net Zero: costing Carbon in Construction. However, viewed from the perspective of a world facing a climate and ecological emergency, the Government’s responses appear evasive and inconclusive.

The Government responds to the 48 conclusions and recommendations of the EAC’s report which are arranged over 5 topics: whole-life carbon (WLC) assessments, building materials, government procurement, retrofit and reuse of existing buildings and skills and training. Throughout their recommendations, the EAC repeatedly make the case for mandatory WLC assessments.

They report that, though a broad cross section of the construction industry, and some local authorities, recognise the importance of assessing and controlling embodied carbon emissions from buildings, there is no Government policy to do so. The EAC recommends an urgent, clear timeframe for introducing mandatory whole-life carbon (WLC) assessments, using the RICS Professional Statement as the established methodology. This timeframe, to include ratcheting targets for embodied carbon reductions, should be set by the government by the end of this year to enable the UK to meet its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 (in eight years time). The government’s response is far from urgent, looking to “explore the potential of a maximum embodied carbon level for new buildings in the future.” It will consult on its approach to embodied carbon in 2023 and remains ambivalent regarding ratcheted carbon targets, believing that current targets proposed by the construction industry lack robustness due to small sample sizes across limited building typologies.

Mandating WLC assessments for buildings, the EAC believes, will also assist in the transition to a circular economy, (encouraging the reuse – rather than recycling – of steel components, for example) as well as  ensuring timber use can be verified as the most appropriate WLC solution to a particular construction project in comparison with other alternatives. Not wishing to commit to mandating WLC assessments for buildings, the Government prefers to “encourage the industry to use the most appropriate low carbon materials and to produce efficient low-carbon designs.”

The EAC highlights that the Government expects all public procurement projects to be subject to WLC assessments. It requests that they publish the number of public works for which WLC assessments have been undertaken and make public the justification for cases where they have not. The Government, in its response, makes clear that they do not plan to collect and publish this information.

The EAC considers that the reuse and retrofitting of existing buildings would be incentivised by mandating WLC assessments throughout the planning process. Planning applications for the demolition of an existing building and its replacement with a new structure should also be accompanied by a circular economy statement detailing why retrofit is not possible. This requirement should, the EAC requests, be introduced as soon as possible, perhaps alongside the Government’s proposed planning reforms. The Government, in its response, will not commit to mandating WLC assessments or circular economy statements though will consider their role in the review of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Throughout the document, the Government’s responses often do not seem to fully engage with the EAC’s conclusions and recommendations. Their final recommendation, for example, requests that the Government sets out how the Department for Education will make training in undertaking WLC assessments “accessible across all levels of education and the entire supply chain.” At no point in the Government’s response is it clear that the recommendation has been understood. Rather, the Government are keen to point out that “qualifications and skills offers are being designed in a way that is responsive to the needs of the market.” It is clear from the Government’s responses to the EAC’s conclusions and recommendations that they feel it is unlikely that the needs of the market will be served by mandating whole-life carbon assessments. However, as the climate emergency deepens, it is already clear to millions of the earth’s inhabitants that the needs of humanity are not being served by the market.

TERRA – Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa

Video installation exploring geopolitics of extraction at Cycles (James Verner, photograph).

Terra is the Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2022. The programme consists of four exhibitions (entitled: Multiplicity, Retroactive, Cycles, and Visionaries), four books, three awards, three days of conferences and a selection of independent projects. Chief-curated by Cristina Veríssimo and Diogo Burnay, Terra proposes the evolution from the current fragmented and linear system model, characterised by an excessive use of resources, towards a circular and holistic system model, motivated by a greater and deeper balance between communities, resources and processes.

Heritage has an intrinsic role to play within this system change as it becomes clear how climate cha(lle)nges, pressure on resources, and socioeconomic and environmental inequities are profoundly intertwined. Understanding these complex situations, the curators believe, requires a paradigm shift from a linear growth model (“cities as machines”) to a circular evolutionary model (“cities as organisms”).

Multiplicity at MNAC bcp runs until 8.1.23 and is curated by Tau Tevengwa and Vyjayanthi Rao. The exhibition shows how the majority of building has necessarily been vernacular and demands that, as cities expand, design and architecture needs to respond to inequality, climate change and conflict. Processes from the Global South illustrate methods to adapt to these challenges. Climate change and conflict are causing displacement as dwindling resources are competed for and extreme environmental events become more frequent. This will force us to rethink our notions of borders and the  built environment.

Inequality and urbanisation are at their highest levels. 68% of the world’s population will be urban by 2050, Delhi is growing by 118 new arrivals an hour. Planning cannot keep pace with the demands this places upon infrastructure. Citizens therefore create their own housing and economic opportunities outside the inadequate formal systems offered by government and create parallel infrastructures forcing a reassessment of the western-centric architectural canon.

Rectroactive at MAAT Central Tejo runs until  5.12.22 and is curated by Loreta Castro Reguera and José Pablo Ambrosi. The exhibition looks at interventions in derelict urban voids, deteriorated landscapes or abandoned areas and features  projects from an open competition. It “explores the suturing tools of communities in urgent need of architectural solutions that may reconcile their sense of belonging and spatial dignity”. 1/3 humanity lives in vulnerable places characterised by  overcrowding, lack of resources and service infrastructure; the projects look at the potential for intervention in these ‘broken and marginalised territories’ showcasing seven public initiatives and ten practices.

Cycles at CCB Garagem Sul runs until  12.2.23 and is curated by  Pamela Prado and Pedro Ignacio Alons. The curators show that before completion and after demolition, buildings are amorphous conglomerates of different materials. Architecture must engage with these cycles over time as much as with the design of the building itself to position its role within the processes of transformation and distribution encountering sustainability, heritage and memory along the way. The exhibition explores how to design for a circular economy, past and present methods of construction as well as the geopolitics of extraction – extractive neoliberalism.

Visionaries at Culturgest runs until  4.12.22 and is curated by Anastassia Smirnova with SVESMI. The exhibition promises to showcase “Radical Prototypes to Change the World.” The curator believes that among our visionaries are those who try to impose an alternative order of things and design, not just physical structures or objects, but ambitious, and, at times, controversial prescriptions for future action. They are interested in new models and prototypes that are not supposed to be simply replicated, but can be interpreted in multiple productive ways. All works are seen in the context of the current debate about planetary strategies.

Any thoughts?

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

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

Upcoming Webinar: ‘Heritage, Demolition and Embodied Carbon’

15th July 12:30-13:30pm on Zoom- Click here to sign up

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.

Sign up to the webinar here.

Heritage and the Climate Crisis: April 2022 News

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

Across the month of April, the M&S store has been hitting headlines yet again as the project was given the go ahead to yet again by stalled. There has also been some great news of listings and successful funding, as well as the publication of our latest Case Study.

News from Heritage Declares

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 12th May at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here. We’d love to see more people!

We are also starting to update 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.

This month, volunteer coordinators David Garrard and Emma Healey also delivered a talk on Heritage Declares in the context of the climate crisis to a group of University of York masters students which was a success. If you’d be interested in having a Heritage Declares talk on your university course or as a company CPD session, please email us here. We’d love to spread our message!

M&S Oxford St demolition halted

The latest in the M&S store saga is Communities Secretary Michael Gove has blocked Pilbrow & Partners’ plans to demolish and rebuild Marks & Spencer flagship Oxford Street store so his department can examine the scheme. This came just days after London Mayor Sadiq Khan decided that the project could proceed despite concerns over the loss of embodied carbon. Read more about the halting of the scheme here.

If you want to know more about the background of the M&S building and why the controversial scheme appears to be causing so much controversy amongst politicians, read this useful summary in the Architect’s Journal.

Iraq’s cultural and natural heritage is being impacted by climate change

The minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra is being eroded by sandstorms. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Rising concentrations of salts in groundwater and more frequent sandstorms, both caused by climate change, are having significant impacts upon historic buildings in Iraq. As this article explains: Salt crystallization is having a detrimental effect upon the remains of Babylon’s palaces. The spiral minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra is being eroded by sandstorms whilst sites such as Umm al-Aqarib with its White Temple, palace and cemetery are being swallowed up by the desert. The Sawa Lake, once known as the Pearl of the South, has dried up and it is feared the exposed ground will become another source of sandstorms.

Heritage Declares Case Study: Low Carbon Adaptation of Agricultural Buildings in West Dorset

Photo credit: James Verner

Heritage Declares signatory and volunteer, James Verner, has designed the adaptation of two unused, adjacent agricultural barns on a farmstead in West Dorset for reuse as a single residential dwelling with office space and a space for social gatherings.

The aim of the project was to provide a viable use for two redundant agricultural buildings with the minimum embodied and operational carbon emissions. Find out more about the project here.

Places of Worship and the Climate Crisis

This month saw a successful #HeritageChat take place on Twitter on the topic of Places Of Worship. One issue addressed was how places of worship can combat the climate crisis . In light of this, we’d like to share a few resources that were showcased in the chat.

Firstly the Fundraising for Net Zero Carbon and the Environment page on the Church of England’s website. This has lots of helpful resources on how to get started with funding for Net Zero Carbon projects.

Secondly is the Church of England guide to Solar Panels which helps to guide whether solar panels are a good option and how to assess them within the planning balance.

SAVE Press Release: Departing Stores, Emporia at Risk

SAVE’s new report written by Harriet Lloyd sheds light on crisis facing Britain’s beautiful department stores. With the change of shopping patterns, combined with closures fueled by the pandemic many of our large ‘cathedrals of commerce’ are facing closure and many stand empty, facing threats of demolition. The SAVE report calls for a change in mindset and emphasises the need to rethink these spaces, rescuing and reinventing them for the 21st century. Read more on the report here.

Has demolition and replacement had its day?

Perhaps an understanding of embodied carbon is encouraging property developers to think twice before deciding to: ‘knock it down and start again.’

The Green Building Council calculates that the construction of buildings is responsible for 11% of global energy related carbon emissions. As operational emissions decrease due to better energy efficiency and grid decarbonisation, the emissions required to erect buildings is coming into sharper focus.

As well as the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings – such as an London ice factory being refitted for mixed use office/retail space – property owners are increasingly keen to demonstrate their environmental credentials to prospective tenants. Read more here.

Temple Works Egyptian-style landmark mill in Leeds gets £1m boost 

Urgent repair works on an empty Egyptian-inspired Victorian flax mill in Leeds have received more than £1 million in grant funding from the Culture Recovery Fund and Historic England. The Holbeck landmark, unused for 20 years and listed Grade I, has been awarded a grant to ensure it is watertight before refurbishment is carried out to enable it to become a potential contender as a home for the British library in Leeds.

The mill, once claimed to be the largest indoor space in the world, was lit from above by natural light flooding through conical rooflights in a grass covered roof (to maintain the humidity required to ensure the flax remained pliant) and grazed by sheep. One of what is estimated to be 230 vacant and under-used mills in Yorkshire, its revitalization is part of Historic England’s ambition to improve environmental sustainability and unlock the potential of these historic buildings. Read more about the funding here.

Former Nottingham Debenhams store given listed status

The building on the corner of Long Row and Market Street. Photograph: Patricia Payne

The BBC reports that the former Debenhams store, which started life on the corner of long Row and Market Street in 1846 as a draper’s shop, has been listed Grade II by DCMS on Historic England’s advice.

Hugh Shannon, Historic England’s listing adviser, said the building defines the character of Nottingham’s commercial core as well as holding significant memories for the populace.

Identifying Opportunities for Integrated Adaptive Management of Heritage Change and Transformation in England: A Review of Relevant Policy and Current Practice

Gibside, Tyne & Wear © Caitlin DeSilvey

This research report, for Historic England, summarises the policy, guidance and statutory frameworks that might enable decision making in the historic environment to accommodate the dynamic transformation of a heritage asset and its associated significance in the context of intensifying environmental drivers of change.

It was produced as part of the Landscape Futures and the Challenge of Change project (2020-2021). It asks if the heritage sector’s presumption in favour of the preservation of fabric against the natural processes of decay, erosion and ecological colonisation is always the best one, especially in cases when such interventions are demonstrated to offer limited benefits. Therefore, and if there is no optimum viable use for an asset, might use be found in the ‘iterative monitoring’ of the effect of natural processes, perhaps requiring enhanced public access and engagement. Though changes to fabric due to adaptive release will erode designated values, other values may emerge, alongside gains for biodiversity.

Such an approach requires landscape scale thinking and the integration of natural and cultural heritage – an approach that may well be required as it has been shown that 80% of assets on the national Heritage List for England will be considered to be at a high level of risk by the second half of this century due to the impacts of environmental processes aggravated by climate driven hazards.

Continued Call for Papers: Global Climate Change and Built Heritage

The Built Heritage Journal is calling for papers on its latest issue ‘Global Climate Change and Built Heritage’. This special issue aims to collate current research into the complex relationship between climate change and built heritage. Papers may include the following topics, but not limited to:

  • The impact of the continued use of built heritage on climate change
  • The impact of climate change on built heritage
  • Learning from the Past
  • Built heritage and environmental justice

The issue is being guest edited by Heritage Declares coordinator Dr Chris Whitman and his colleagues at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Abstracts are to be sent to built-heritage@tongji.edu.cn to by 29th July 2022.

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: March News 2022

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

This month has seen the publication of Historic England’s Climate Change Strategy which has yet again demonstrated the importance of the historic environment as part of the response to the Climate Crisis. We’ve also seen some great, informative articles, resources and campaigns this month, all detailed below.

Fancy Getting involved with Heritage Declares?

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

We are also looking for volunteers to help with our social media accounts, website and helping to produce the monthly news and newsletter. Tasks may include:

  • Reviewing news for relevant articles and case studies to be used across our platforms.
  • Creating summaries for the newsletter.
  • Tweeting and retweeting relevant stories on our Twitter.
  • Posting relevant material to our LinkedIn page.
  • Creating photo content for our Instagram.
  • Writing up case studies for the website.

Volunteering is flexible and can fit around your existing commitments. No experience needed beyond an enthusiasm for heritage and raising awareness of the Climate Crisis, we can shape the role to fit your interests.

For more information and to express an interest in volunteering, please email us here.

We are also starting to update 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.

Historic England publishes Climate Change Strategy

Historic England have published their Climate Change Strategy. This strategy describes Historic England’s response to the climate crisis, setting out their vision, aims and practically how they are mitigating, managing risks and adapting to the Climate Crisis. Read more about it here.

Call for Papers: Global Climate Change and Built Heritage

The Built Heritage Journal is calling for papers on its latest issue ‘Global Climate Change and Built Heritage’. This special issue aims to collate current research into the complex relationship between climate change and built heritage. Papers may include the following topics, but not limited to:

  • The impact of the continued use of built heritage on climate change
  • The impact of climate change on built heritage
  • Learning from the Past
  • Built heritage and environmental justice

The issue is being guest edited by Heritage Declares coordinator Dr Chris Whitman and his colleagues at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Abstracts are to be sent to built-heritage@tongji.edu.cn to by 29th July 2022.

Campaign to save Grange Lido

A campaign has been created to save Grange Lido, the only surviving seaside lido in the North-West. and one of only four in England. Since its closure in 1993, it has been waiting to be re-opened and now needs some considerable restoration works. Save Grange Lido Ltd is working in partnership with South Lakeland District Council on a two-phase restoration of the Lido. To find more about the campaign and restoration plans, visit their website.

Spring statement 2022: The Chancellor announced that the VAT payable on ‘energy-saving materials’ would go from five per cent to zero from April for five years.

As part of the Spring Statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that VAT on the installation of energy efficient materials in homes such as solar panels, heat pumps and insulation is to be cut from 5% to 0%. This article explains the key points of the changes in more detail and the other issues to consider when looking to use more energy saving materials.

Real World Visuals bring Climate data to life through visuals 

Real World Visuals have been working to create simple animations and visuals to demonstrate the impact of the Climate Crisis in the real world. They have created a visual highlighting the carbon footprint of cement, using animation to help people comprehend the scale and volume of carbon footprints. Read more about this project here.

Civic Trust Awards recognition for Preston Bus Station and ERP Killingworth

Two outstanding twentieth century buildings have been recognised for their exemplary restoration, as the winners of the 2022 Civic Trust Awards were announced. Preston Bus Station was threatened with demolition for many years and to see it restored and given recognition through an award champions our campaign to preserve and maintain our existing buildings. Read more about the awards here.

Forgotten women architects celebrated for IWD


For International Women’s Day, Open House London created a Twitter thread celebrating women architects throughout the 20th century. In addition, the thread also exposed the extent that these estates and buildings are being forgotten, poorly maintained and many even demolished, including Rosemary Stjernstedt and Roger Westman’s Central Hill which is currently under threat and has its own campaign twitter here.

National Trust climate threat mapping

Whilst published in 2021, the National Trust’s climate threat mapping is still a relevant resource worth sharing. The map illustrates the threat climate change poses to some of its most iconic and culturally significant sites – and offers some solutions on how to tackle it. The map works by plotting its places alongside existing data on climate change related events. Through doing this the charity is able to understand potential risk factors at a local scale. For more info see their press release.

Any thoughts?

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

Heritage and the Climate Crisis: February News 2022

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

The news this month has been tragically centred around the Russian invasion of Ukraine so it feels fitting to start this month’s news by saying that the people of Ukraine and any signatories affected by the events are in our thoughts. Architect’s Journal have recently published an article Inside Ukraine: ‘Our architects haven’t left the bomb shelters for days’ (architectsjournal.co.uk) which gives insight into the current situation of a Kyiv-based practice and the city’s battle for survival. For information on how you can help visit the Disaster’s Emergency Committee.

In terms of Heritage and Climate news, we’ve seen some great, informative articles this month as well as new casework campaigning against demolition, something we are now so accustomed to seeing. This month also saw the launch of our Case Studies page on the website and our open call for case studies. We’ve already had some great submissions so far and can’t wait to get those of the website and share them in future newsletters. If you have a case study you’d like to share, please email us here.

RIBA demands mass retrofit of 3.3m interwar homes to tackle fuel poverty

Photo credit: AJ

The RIBA has called on the government to roll out a new fuel poverty-busting national retrofit strategy for millions of interwar homes. The report sets out how a mass ‘fabric-first’ retrofit drive could be achieved with an emphasis on financial aid, changes to policy and increased skills and training. Read more about the campaign here.

Extreme Flooding at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Storm Franklin saw extreme weather conditions across the country and one area which sustained extensive damage was UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. The River Skell overflowed through the Studley Royal estate, and whilst the water did not reach the ruins, it did cause damage to the 18th century water gardens and surrounding parkland. This is just one example of extreme weather causing catastrophe in recent years, all as a result of climate change. Events like these incentivise us to keep pushing for change to prevent more hertitage assets being lost or damaged. Read more about the flooding here.

Carbon Emissions Bill 

Duncan Baker MP for North Norfolk recently submitted a 10 minute rule bill to tackle Embodied Carbon in our buildings. The Bill will require the whole-life carbon emissions of buildings to be reported; to set limits on embodied carbon emissions in the construction of buildings; and for connected purposes. The Bill is currently undergoing its second reading in the House of Commons. To read more about the bill, click here.

Heritage Declares Case Study highlight: Greenlands, sustainability upgrades

Greenlands, Henley Business School

Heritage Declares signatory and volunteer, Emma Healey, led the Barton Willmore Heritage Team in assisting the University of Reading with their sustainability upgrade projects in some of the listed university buildings, including Grade II* listed, Greenlands. The current system was outdated with only two control centres leading the over- and under-heating of the buildings.

The aim of the project was to create a more sustainable heating system which could more easily be controlled but also reduce the costs of heating the building and reduce its carbon footprint. The team worked alongside the University and engineering team to develop a system that could be sympathetically installed within the listed buildings which would be more sustainable and financially viable for the University. Read more about the project on our new Case Studies page.

Planning’s second century needs to learn from the errors of its first

David Williams MRTPI (freelance planning and regeneration specialist) argues that much of 20th century planning and development has proven unsustainable, and the new mantra for planning moving forward should be ‘maintain, adapt, reuse’. Read more about David’s thoughts on sustainability and planning here.

Restoration begins at Saltdean Lido

After much campaigning to save the building and secure funding, restoration has started on Saltdean Lido and will continue across the next 18 months. The Lido are updating people of their progress through Twitter.

Demolition plans for Rotherham Bingo Hall recalled

Redevelopment plans that involve demolishing the historic former Rotherham cinema and replacing it with flats have been withdrawn following the building being granted listed status. Opened in 1934, the cinema was built by Thomas Wade & Son Ltd of Wath upon Dearne. It was designed by Blackmore & Sykes of Hull. It is now Grade II listed, adding an added level of protection against demolition. Read more here.

The demolition of Cowbridge’s historic Former Girls’ School is set to be debated at the Welsh Assembly

Plans to bulldoze Cowbridge’s historic Former Girls’ School are now set to be debated at the Welsh Assembly. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has written to Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport Dawn Bowden of the Welsh Government of Culture and Sport to request she intervenes to stop the needless loss of the school and shared an alternative scheme for the site. Unfortunately, CADW have refused to list the site. Read more about the campaign here.

Building without Concrete? Looking forward to the built environment without concrete

Robyn Pender from Historic England has written an interesting article on whether the huge environmental burden of concrete is necessary. She questions whether buildings truly require concrete and argues that concrete has become a lazy person’s solution to every problem in the built environment. Read more here.

New measures introduced to manage the impact of climate change on Scotland’s national heritage sites

Photo credit HES

Historic Environment Scotland is implementing a new approach to the inspection of historic properties in response to climate change. A programme of tactile condition surveys on over 200 properties will assess the extent of deterioration of high-level masonry and ensure public safety against the risk of potentially unstable building fabric. As well as assessing general deterioration, the survey will assess the impacts of climate change. Read more about the survey work here.

Tactical Preservation in Detroit

Offering an international perspective, this report takes a look at how to approach empty buildings in the city of Detroit. Furthermore, it considers the ways they can be preserved and avenues for funding. Read more here.

Looking forward

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 10th February at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here.

If you have any case studies you’d like to send us, please email us here.

Any thoughts?

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

Heritage and the Climate Crisis: January News 2022

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

Whilst we try and spread some positivity in our monthly news, again through the month of January the headlines have been dominated by some high profile proposed demolitions, this time outside of London with demolitions of 20th century buildings proposed in Conway and Harrogate. Alongside this, there has been some interesting thought pieces on VAT and new builds as well as a new report published on the high profile M&S demolition on Oxford Street, see the Heritage Declares news highlights below.

Proposed demolition of Harrogate’s 1902 former Debenhams department store

An application has been submitted for the demolition of Harrogate’s 1902 former Debenhams department store on Parliament Street. The proposals would see the building demolished and replaced by 50 high-end apartments and two commercial units. Objections have been raised by Historic England and SAVE Britain’s Heritage questioning the lack of clear or adequate justification for demolition or analysis of refurbishment or retrofitting within the proposals. Read more here.

What if we didn’t build a single new building in 2022?

The most sustainable buildings are the ones already in existence. This article gives an American perspective on the adaptive, reuse projects in the context of the Climate Crisis, as well as some interesting takeaways when we consider new build projects. Read the full article here.

Max Fordham passes away

Acclaimed engineer and pioneer of sustainable building design, Max Fordham, passed away at the beginning of the month aged 88. Read his obituary here.

Demolition of Art Deco Cinema Rejected

In positive news, the demolition of a Grade C-listed Art Deco Cinema in Edinburgh has been rejected as “The application does  not demonstrate that the proposals to undertake substantial demolition will not damage the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building.” Read more here.

Roman toilet seat found in Peatlands, credit Vindolanda.

Climate Change Threatening buried UK Treasures

The changing weather patterns as a result of climate change are drying our some peatlands, waterlogged soils which cover about 10% of the UK. As peatlands contain very little oxygen, it is the perfect environment to preserved materials such as wood, leather and textiles which do not rot. As a result of more oxygen entering the peatland system, these materials are now at threat of an accelerated rate of decomposition. Read more here.

Art Deco building in Conwy to be demolished

Conwy Council’s planning committee has voted by nine votes to three in favour of demolishing an art deco house in Conwy. Read more about the decision here. C20 Society campaigned and objected to the proposals alongside locals to no avail despite no evidence being given to support claims of the building being unrepairable. However, the C20 Society are urging the council to reconsider the application, more info here.

Scrapping VAT on repairs would ease the housing crisis

At Heritage Declares, we are continually calling for VAT to be scrapped for repairs and retrofit. This article in The Times, considers the benefits of scrapping VAT on repairs rather than contemplating cutting VAT on energy. Read the full article here.

M&S Store comparison, credit: Mail Online

New report blasts bulldoze and rebuild plan for M&S Oxford Street HQ

SAVE Britain’s Heritage commissioned sustainability and carbon expert Simon Sturgis to produce a report on the M&S proposals on Oxford Street. Read more about the original decision in our November News. The report finds that the proposals do not comply with the UK Government’s net zero legislation to reduce carbon emissions or the Greater London Authority’s stated policy to prioritise retrofit. Read more about the report here. Sign the petition to stop the demolition here.

New RIBA Publications on the Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings

RIBA have recently published three new publications on the adaptive reuse of historic buildings: Sustainability Past and Future Guide, International case studies and UK Case studies. These are a useful free resource to aid built heritage professionals and clients to take an informed approach to sustainability-focused interventions in existing buildings. If you are interested and want to know more, the guide and case studies available here.

Join the London Gasketeers in their fight to save London’s Historic Working Gas Lamps

Westminster Council intended to remove 300 historic working gas lamps, to replace them with fake replicas powered by LED light. The London Gasketeers are building a community to work to save London’s historic gas lamps. The council were targeting 160 unlisted lamps first- in Covent Garden & Westminster. However, thanks to the London Gasketeers, work has halted, read more here. At Heritage Declares, we champion repair, regular maintenance to protect our historic buildings and their fittings and fixtures as the most sustainable approach. Whilst we understand the eco-friendly credentials of LED lamps, an approach to sustainability should be proportionate. Does the amount of gas used by these lamps outweigh the carbon used in making new, replacement lamps? We encourage you to follow the London Gasketeers on Instagram and Twitter to find out more.

ACAN lodge petition to Limit the Carbon Footprint of Construction

The carbon footprint of new buildings and infrastructure accounted for around 20% of the UK’s overall carbon emissions in 2020. ACAN have created a petition petition to ask the UK government to introduce legislation to limit the carbon footprint of construction now, through changes to The Building Regulations and National Planning Policy. We encourage you to sign the petition here.

Making solar power an option for more homes

More homes and businesses in Kensington and Chelsea could be powered by renewable energy, with proposals to make installing solar panels easier. Kensington and Chelsea Council is the first in the country to consult on a new planning order, which would give consent for solar panels on most Grade II and some Grade II* listed buildings without the need for individual listed building consent. Read the consultation here.

Low Cost/No Cost Tips for Sustainability in Cultural Heritage

Signatory Lorraine Finch has published her book ‘Low cost/no cost tips for sustainability in cultural heritage’. The book is available to read and download free of charge on her website.

Looking forward

Our next meeting is being held Thursday 10th February at 5pm-6pm, join through the link here.

Take part in the Welsh Historic Environment Group Climate Change Subgroup Historic Environment and Climate Change Adaptation Activity Survey 2021. They are looking for examples of about climate action work from 2021 relating to their Historic Environment and Climate Change in Wales Sector Adaptation Plan. Survey available here, more information available here. You have until 18th February to take part.

Any thoughts?

Have you got any thoughts on the January Heritage and the Climate Crisis News Highlights? Or suggestions for the February 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