Sustainable retrofit of heritage homes

Developing national guidance and resources

Project duration: January 2013 ongoing

Making energy use more sustainable while also preserving our built heritage can prove tricky.

About one fifth of England’s homes were built before 1919. England has nearly 1.1 million residential buildings in Conservation Areas, and an estimated 145,000 listed dwellings.

Heritage homes, like any other, often need energy efficiency improvements. Indeed, older homes are often harder to keep warm. "Traditional homes make up around 22% of the English housing stock but are responsible for 29% of total domestic carbon emissions," says project manager Martin Holley.

But there is a possibility that installing these improvements may have a negative impact on a home's character and significance. Renewable energy technologies, if not responsibly sited, may also impact upon a heritage property's setting.

Ensuring that there are responsible local planning policies, and that development decisions are well informed and sympathetic, will encourage a more integrated approach to tackling heritage conservation alongside the social and environmental issues of inefficient homes.

CSE is working with English Heritage, and in collaboration with Oxford City Council, to develop policy and technical guidance on the sustainable use of energy in traditional dwellings (generally defined as pre-1919 and solid-walled). Two nationally-relevant resources are being developed.

The first will provide local authorities, professionals, householders and other interested parties with an overview of policy and regulations, the challenges and opportunities around sustainable and responsible retrofit, the risks and benefits of energy efficiency measures, and where to go for further advice.

Secondly, the technical advice is aimed mainly at local authorities amd will help decision-makers to understand the legislative and policy framework. It will include ways to address the sometimes unavoidable conflicts that arise from different legislation and planning objectives, along with ways to boost understanding across local authority departments and interested local stakeholders. Both publications should be available by the summer of 2016.

"This is a great opportunity to support local authorities and householders in finding the right balance between safeguarding the heritage assets of our homes, and making them more sustainable in the way they use energy," says Martin.

This project follows in the footsteps of our Warmer Bath project.

For further information contact:

Martin Holley | 0117 934 1419

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