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Fouseki, Kalliopi and Cassar, May Energy Efficiency in Heritage Buildings — Future Challenges and Research Needs. The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice Volume 5, 2014 - Issue 2: Energy Efficiency and Heritage Values in Historic Buildings.

Energy Efficiency in Heritage Buildings Future Challenges and Research Needs.pdf

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This special issue explores through interdisciplinary perspectives the growing theoretical discourses, policies, and practices related to the topical and often contentious issue of improving the energy performance of historic and traditional buildings. It does so by bringing together contributions from academics as well as practitioners of different disciplines with experience in relevant projects from the UK, Italy, and Sweden. This volume is timely. Current national and international imperatives to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions across EuropeFootnote1 have triggered intensive efforts to refurbish ‘old’ buildings in order to render them energy efficient. Taking into consideration the general assumption that older buildings consume more energy than modern structures,Footnote2 the issue of how best to balance energy-efficiency measures with the values attached to heritage buildings becomes a critical one. The term ‘heritage values’, in this special issue, refers to the meanings and significance attached by those who use or manage traditional or historic buildings. Heritage values thus can encompass aesthetic, historic, social, and other values, although not necessarily monetary ones.Footnote3 The term ‘heritage buildings’ is preferred in the Editorial over the term ‘historic’ or ‘traditional’ buildings because it also can encompass more recent structures which potentially may be perceived as heritage by specific groups of people. Although the contributors to this issue deal specifically with historic and traditional buildings, modernist architecture should not be neglected. As Dulla points out: ‘modernist buildings have a very specific aesthetic value, which is severely endangered by their often not being recognised as fully “valid” instances of architectural heritage’.Footnote4 While Dulla’s analysis focuses on the aesthetic significance of modernist architecture, there are other sets of values that are often ignored, especially in the context of built heritage. So far, as indicated in the wider literature on this topic and demonstrated also by the papers in this issue, a value-led approach to the energy efficiency of ‘heritage buildings’ reflects predominantly the perspectives of the experts — mainly conservators, engineers, and architects. Indeed, the papers in this volume stress emphatically that only historic or aesthetic values are considered during the introduction and implementation of energy-efficiency interventions, thereby neglecting social, economi­c, or other values that might be more relevant to non-expert users of heritage buildings (such as residents). For example, the afore-mentioned study by Dulla shows that the main priority is retention of the original function and traces of time.Footnote5 Thus, focus is placed on the impact of energy-efficiency interventions, such as thermal insulation, on the building’s exterior form. Another study from Sweden similarly stresses the importance of retaining the authentic, original, architectural, and historic features of historic buildings during an energy-efficiency project.Footnote6 Prior to outlining the contributions in this volume, this Editorial will attempt to summarise current research on the topic of energy efficiency of heritage buildings and the tension this can create with heritage values. It is argued that there are great challenges to be faced if decarbonisation policies are to succeed within the historic built environment. We advocate for the development of cross-disciplinary, sophisticated methods for understanding and integrating heritage values into decision-making frameworks that revolve around the improvement in energy performance of the heritage building stock. We contend that such projects should not only include conservators, architects, and engineers, but also involve heritage managers, sociologists, and anthropologists in order to investigate and address the sensitive balances which need to be achieved between the preservation of heritage significance and the need for energy efficiency. Our ultimate goal is to conclude with areas for further research that will address the way forward for this urgent matter.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: English > Climate Change Adaptation
Depositing User: Susanna Carlsten
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2024 06:02
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2024 06:02

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