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City of London launches Retrofit Toolkit to protect heritage buildings

The City Corporation have launched a Heritage Buildings Retrofit Toolkit to guide local authorities through the minefield of retrofitting listed building or those in conservation areas.

The UK’s built environment accounts from for 25% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and while cleaner/greener methods and technologies  are being incorporated into new builds, the vast majority of buildings that will be standing 100 years from now, have already been built. As such, retrofitting is a vital tool in bringing down those emissions. 

Research has found that improving the energy efficiency of historic buildings could reduce carbon emissions from the UK’s buildings by 5% annually.

However, retrofitting historic and/or listed building throws up unique challenges 

A Government report published earlier this year: Adapting historic homes for energy efficiency: a review of the barriers found that the issue of skills, training and capacity within local planning authorities was seen as a significant barrier to securing planning and listed building consent for retrofitting these buildings. 

One of the problems faced is that that many local planning authorities have no conservation officer and those that do exist have no access to training that combines the elements of heritage, sustainability, and retrofit. 

Any local authorities facing this dilemma will be interested to hear of The City Corporation’s Heritage Buildings Retrofit Toolkit which they have published today.

The Square Mile is home to more than 600 listed buildings, 28 conservation areas, 48 scheduled ancient monuments and four historic parks and gardens, so it’s no surprise that they have stepped up to the challenge. 

Through a collaboration with Purcell, the City of London Corporation have drawn from research and engagement with owners, occupiers, and caretakers of historic buildings within and around the City to produce what they describe as ‘an open-access, toolkit which provides a nine-step methodology aimed at empowering building owners to initiate the adaptations necessary to reduce carbon emissions and build climate resilience in their heritage buildings.’

The nine-steps are based on the latest best practice guidance and will ‘ensure an iterative, whole building approach that is sensitive to the particular challenges of heritage buildings.

1. Start from a position of knowledge
2. Identify the risks
3. Evaluate the opportunities
4. Develop a whole building retrofit plan
5. Build a business case
6. Detail design and specification
7. Seek relevant approvals
8. Installation and work on site
9. Feedback loop

The full toolkit can be found here.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee, Shravan Joshi, said: ‘It is vital we secure a sustainable future for our historic environment. Our ability to adapt our heritage buildings depends on developing a common understanding and promoting good practice of what can be achieved. This toolkit provides a structured approach to such collaboration.

‘As the custodian of many heritage assets, the City Corporation itself is part of this journey and wants to share our own experiences and learn from others. This event is a further step along that journey, and we are committed to ensuring our policies and resources support others to act.’

Climate Action Policy Lead of the City of London Corporation, Alderman Alison Gowman, said: ‘At the City Corporation we recognise that an important part of conserving our heritage buildings is ensuring they are fit for the future. This means making them as energy efficient as possible, reducing their carbon emissions and adapting them to changes to the climate. This toolkit provides a structured process for pursuing these actions, drawing on latest guidance and good practice.”

‘Through our Climate Action Strategy, we have slashed the Corporation’s net carbon emissions by 66% since 2018 – putting us on track to hit our target to reach net zero in our own operations by 2027. We are now approaching the fourth year of our Strategy and will continue to have a heavy focus on buildings.’




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