Heritage and Sustainability 1: Built Heritage

This Practice Note relates to the conservation of existing buildings and improvements to their environmental performance.

The Heritage and Sustainability Practice Note series is expected to include:

  • Heritage and Sustainability Practice Note1: Built Heritage (this Practice Note)
  • Heritage and Sustainability Practice Note 2: Cultural Landscape
  • Heritage and Sustainability Practice Note 3: Intangible Heritage
  • Heritage and Sustainability Practice Note 4: Climate Change

This Practice Note deals with reducing carbon emissions and utilising increasingly scarce resources in a responsible way. Conservation of existing cultural and natural heritage reduces environmental impacts by:

  • Minimising construction waste by reducing the demolition cycle, ensuring buildings are adapted and retained until the end of their useful life;
  • Reducing carbon emissions by minimising the energy needed to demolish and reconstruct;
  • Retaining the embodied energy of existing structures and landscapes, recognising the environmental cost already paid;
  • Continuing the life of building materials that can no longer be sustainably sourced;
  • Continuing to utilise buildings designed to operate using passive environmental control;
  • Contributing towards maintaining a community’s sense of place in a rapidly changing world; and
  • Continuing traditional skills and practices, many of which have low environmental impacts.

Heritage conservation practice and sustainable development can have very similar objectives and the pursuit of one goal should not be at the expense of the other. Conserving and adapting heritage places can contribute to energy conservation and also reduces carbon emissions by minimising demolition and construction waste and the need for production and transportation of new materials.

We urge ICOMOS members to start integrating the concepts of sustainability into their conservation planning work and hope to run a seminar series early next year to further explain the issues.

The Practice Note can be downloaded from here

NSCES welcomes comments on the Practice Note during the following 12 months and will then review and refine the Practice Note as needed.

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