How historic buildings are helping combat climate change
There are many reasons to love Britain’s beautiful historic buildings. They should command our respect for embodying our history and for being remarkable feats of architecture. But there is now another reason for us to embrace the buildings of bygone eras. Did you know they can help tackle the climate crisis?
A recent report by Historic England has revealed that old buildings could play a key part in meeting the UK’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Our homes are the third biggest source of greenhouse gases and the construction of new buildings emits 48 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air each year. To put that into perspective, it is equal to the total annual emissions for the whole of Scotland!
Upgrading and reusing existing buildings, making them more energy efficient, could be the way forward. And it saves some of our remarkable heritage – so we’re fully on board.
Demolishing older buildings to replace with new can be a travesty for many reasons. But research shows that it’s substantially damaging for the environment. This is due not only to the waste generated as part of the construction process, but also because it releases embodied carbon, the carbon dioxide that has already been released to construct the building.
Historic England claims reusing old buildings should become part of the recycling mix. Recycling plastic, glass, paper and metal is now a normal part of our lives, but recycling and repurposing our historic buildings would be much more impactful.
There are more than 200,000 empty homes in England, of which 20% are historic. We say use them!
The stunning unused textile mills in West Yorkshire, for example, could make 11,000 new homes.
As Heritage England points out, that 2050 deadline is looming and we need to consider the value heritage building refurbishment can bring if we’re going to achieve carbon reduction targets.
It would also help keep Britain beautiful, so we couldn’t agree more.
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