22 YEARBOOK 2022 CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT: CRUNCH TIME? JOHN PRESTON COP26 SEEMS a very long time ago. Amid unprecedented gas prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is abundantly clear that we should have heeded the increasingly urgent calls to action which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change first made years ago. But now, for multiple reasons, the demands for insulating buildings are redoubled. The government was already expecting the UK’s building sector to provide a disproportionate share of carbon savings (whilst at the same time promoting air travel by allowing airport expansion). Now buildings and landscapes are under even greater pressure to provide energy savings and energy generation respectively. The threats to our special places are greater than ever, but threats can be mitigated and compromises found if those involved understand what they are dealing with. But too many don’t understand. Ten years of efforts by the heritage sector and others have failed to overcome the government and industry’s blindness to the need for a different approach for traditional buildings, which account for at least a quarter of the UK’s building stock. The UK government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy¹ mentions heat pumps 319 times2, listed buildings twice, and traditional buildings not once. Its focus is on installation measures and it ignores the need for repairs before retrofit. Likewise, Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement cut VAT on installation of measures for five years but did nothing to encourage like for like repairs. While the government has recognised retrofit skills and capacity deficits (skills gaps of 105,000 installers, 15,000 assessors, 10,000 retrofit coordinators were identified in the Heat and Buildings Strategy) it has no clear strategy or means to resolve them, and skills needs for traditional buildings (both repair and retrofit) are not even on the radar. The government’s own retrofit guidance, PAS 2035 for dwellings and PAS 2038 for non-domestic buildings, aims to manage the risks involved, but is too little known because it is prohibitively expensive. The government’s choice (following the Each Home Counts review) to deliver its guidance via the British Standards Institute has made guidance which should be freely available incredibly costly. PAS 2035 costs £190, PAS 2038 £95, and BS 7913 £225. This is over £500 for the basic guidance. Add in BS EN15978 Whole life cycle (now under review), BS40101:2022 (Building Performance Evaluation) £307, and the forthcoming BS 40102 Part 1 (Health and Wellbeing of Buildings), BS 40102 Part 2 (Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality) expected in 2022, and BS 40104 (Assessment of Dwellings for Retrofit) which will replace parts of PAS 2035, and the costs could come to over £1500. This is totally incompatible with raising industry and public awareness. The government’s (UK wide) Heat and Buildings Strategy talks about encouraging public awareness but doesn’t tackle this key problem. The heritage sector needs to get on the front foot, as highlighted by a recent Times article “The trouble with retrofitting period properties” (28 January 2022). The author of this seriously unbalanced piece, Hugh Graham, did not contact the IHBC, SPAB, STBA or Historic England technical advisers; and he does not mention PAS 2035. A welcome case is made for more training of conservation officers, but worryingly, he promotes New Court, Trinity College, Cambridge as an exemplar approach to retrofit. This project³ was radical in its approach to the Grade I architecture, not least in the uncompromising handling of internal wall insulation (IWI) and the cornice (see illustration). The Trinity project involved complete replacement of the original windows, to which Historic England Children at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow, October 2021 (Photo: Roo Pitt)