IHBC Yearbook 2013

R E V I E W 33 CONSERVATION EDUCATION AND THE GREEN AGENDA IAN BROCKLEBANK Ian Brocklebank BA(Hons) DipArch RIBA IHBC is a conservation architect with over 25 years’ experience in practice. He is a former convenor of the IHBC’s Technical Panel and jointly authored English Heritage’s guidance on the application of Part L of the Buildings Regulations to historic and traditional buildings. He currently teaches architectural conservation at Plymouth University. His article considers the difficulties of reconciling the very different cultures and methodologies of the conservation and sustainable building sectors, and the urgency of bringing the two together. Arguing that the behaviour of traditionally constructed buildings is still not sufficiently well understood, he goes on to advocate an approach to conservation education in which teaching and research proceed in parallel, each informing and extending the other. progressively more stringent for both new buildings and old. The government is also in the process of introducing the Green Deal as part of its drive to lower national CO2 emissions. This is designed to provide householders with access to the necessary guidance, products and methods, and to a financial mechanism to facilitate the thermal upgrading of a significant proportion of the older building stock in the UK. ENVIRONMENTALISTS vs CONSERVATIONISTS Taken together, the initiatives outlined above mean that the two disciplines of sustainable building and building conservation are being forced into contact in new ways and the meeting, while important, is not always comfortable. Generally, both camps have reasonable beliefs and expectations, but few on either side fully understand the other’s perspective, culture or methodologies. The conservation sector, for example, has mainly only had recourse to the exemption for listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments within the Building Regulations. Environmentalists, meanwhile, often regard older buildings as problematic and see the health of the planet as something that far outweighs cultural or aesthetic matters. Both approaches are somewhat simplistic and education is badly needed to bridge the divide so that practical and appropriate solutions can be found. This might be a relatively straightforward task if we understood the majority of technical issues and if the necessary methodologies were well established. Unfortunately, in several critical areas this is not the case. We should perhaps make a THE GREEN AGENDA The green agenda is becoming increasingly important to the building conservation sector. This is driven primarily by the national response to global warming, much of which is now enshrined in legislation enacted by the UK government as part of its legally-binding response to the Kyoto Protocol. Three aspects of this response are relevant to older buildings: Almost any building to be sold or let must have an energy performance certificate. This is calculated against a prescribed methodology by approved assessors to ensure consistency of approach and comparability. Where alterations to a building require approval under the Building Regulations, the Approved Documents supporting Part L may require the upgrading of thermal elements in ancillary areas of the building not subject to the principal works. The government has committed itself to upgrading the thermal standards required by the regulations every five years, so they are expected to become Most historic buildings are also traditional. However, there are exceptions: the Isokon building in north London (top) is historic but de#nitely not traditional. The Victorian pub shown below it is traditionally constructed but not necessarily designated as historic.