IHBC 2020 Yearbook

R E V I E W A N D A N A L Y S I S 39 SUSTAINABILITY AND CONSERVATION IHBC’S POSITION STATEMENT ON THE HISTORIC BUILT ENVIRONMENT ROY LEWIS IN APRIL 2020, the IHBC trustees approved a ‘Position Statement on Sustainability and Conservation of the Historic Built Environment’. Most conservationists think that their work is inherently sustainable; after all, to conserve means to protect, to maintain, or at the least to use cautiously. So, you might ask, why was the position statement considered necessary? Most of us accept that historic buildings are not all as thermally efficient as highly-specified modern buildings. This is reflected in the number of articles in conservation publications and guidance notes from heritage organisations on issues such as the installation of doubleglazing and insulation in historic buildings. And when it comes to a really precious building, most would prefer to keep it as it is, rather than ruin it by replacing the windows and scarring its appearance with external render or solar panels on the roof. So, historic building conservation is a bit of a curate’s egg when it comes to sustainability. Some architects argue that in order to create a sustainable built environment, most old buildings should be replaced with new carbonneutral ones. But if the new house is in a remote rural location which generates countless unnecessary journeys over many years, it cannot really be described as sustainable development. Sustainability is not just about individual buildings, it is also about how we live. Historic towns can provide a model for sustainable living, where people are able to live and work in close proximity; with walking, cycling and public transport as the principal means of getting around. But such wider aspects of sustainability are often overlooked. Furthermore, sustainability is not all about limiting carbon emissions. Quality of life is an integral part of a sustainable future, and the historic built environment with its designed landscapes, parks and gardens, makes an enormous contribution. Since the introduction of IHBC Council+ meetings, the need to give a higher priority to green issues has been a recurring theme. This demand has come from younger members in particular. In response, IHBC has made an important contribution to the development of the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (STBA), which is a collaboration of organisations that acts as a forum for sustaining and improving traditional buildings. John Preston represents Derby College library: the conservation, adaptation and reuse of historic buildings is an inherently sustainable process (Photo: Jonathan Taylor)