Climate change is one of the most important and urgent problems facing us today. Without action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts of a changing climate will have major adverse effects on society, the economy and the environment, including the historic environment. These impacts will impair future generations’ enjoyment and understanding of their cultural heritage and limit the economic and societal contributions it makes. The wide-ranging actions required to limit further damaging emissions, combined with the need to adapt historic assets to make them more resilient to a changing climate, will also have significant implications for the historic environment and its future management.
This section of the HELM website provides links to advice on climate change and the historic environment and on the implications of adaptive responses and mitigation, including policies on renewable and low carbon energy.
Climate change and the historic environment
Current English Heritage thinking on climate change is set out in Climate Change and the Historic Environment, published in January 2008, which updates and replaces our 2006 position paper. This statement is intended both for the heritage sector and also for those involved in the wider scientific and technical aspects of climate change; in the development of strategies and plans relating to climate change impacts; or in projects relating to risk assessment, adaptation and mitigation.
Hearth and Home Energy Efficiency Research
We need to understand the energy behaviour of our homes, old and new, and the impact of any alterations, so that we can be sure that our adaptations are the most suitable and effective for mitigating and adapting to climate change. Responding to the need to gather this data, English Heritage is developing Hearth and Home, an ambitious and potentially groundbreaking research project which will monitor the energy usage of real Victorian houses, lived in by ordinary people. The project aims to work out best practice in measuring energy efficiency, to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of energy-saving options, and ultimately to provide guidance on measures to reduce domestic fuel usage and carbon emissions. For more information on this project check the Climate Change and Your Home website.
English Heritage climate change publications
Alongside this high-level statement, English Heritage continues to publish and commission more detailed research and guidance relating to climate change and its implications for the historic environment. These include guidance on improving energy efficiency in historic buildings (including the implications for the historic environment of building regulations on energy efficiency); the heritage implications of coastal and flood defence policy; advice on renewable energy projects, and a scoping study on the implications of climate change in the UK and on World Heritage Sites, both commissioned from University College London.
Over the coming months, further advice and links will be added on the insurance of historic buildings:
- English Heritage 2002: Building Regulations and Historic Buildings
- English Heritage 2003: Coastal Defence and the Historic Environment: English Heritage Guidance
- English Heritage 2005: Wind Energy and the Historic Environment
- UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage 2005: Climate Change and the Historic Environment
- English Heritage 2006: Shoreline Management Plan Review and the Historic Environment: English Heritage Guidance.
- English Heritage 2007: Biomass Energy and the Historic Environment
- English Heritage 2007: Micro wind generation and traditional buildings
- English Heritage 2007: Energy Conservation in Traditional Buildings
- English Heritage 2007: Cutting Down on Carbon - Improving the Energy Efficiency of Historic Buildings: Government Historic Estates Unit Annual Seminar
- English Heritage 2008: Climate Change and the Historic Environment
- English Heritage 2008: Small-Scale Solar Electrics (Photovoltaics) Energy and Traditional Buildings
- English Heritage 2008: Small-Scale Solar Thermal Energy and Traditional Buildings
- English Heritage 2008: Microgeneration and the Historic Environment
- English Heritage 2010: Flooding and Historic Buildings