Recently an international architectural movement has started to declare a climate emergency. Architects Declare was first launched in the UK in May 2019 by a group of 17 founding signatories, all winners of the UK’s top architecture award, the Stirling Prize. Architects Declare Australia (ADA) launched shortly after in July 2019. Norway have a similar group and the American Institute of Architects members have voted for a resolution for urgent and sustained climate action.
Sustainability is also inherent in good heritage practice. Heritage conservation in the built environment involves retention of existing structures and fabric, reducing carbon emissions and utilising increasingly scarce resources in a responsible way.
The Australia NSCES Heritage and Sustainability Practice Note 1 : Built Heritage promotes the benefits and importance of the conservation of heritage places as part of the ongoing protection and sustainability of the world’s increasingly scarce resources. 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;