Sustainable retrofit of heritage homes


Making energy use more sustainable while also preserving our built heritage can prove tricky. About one fifth of England’s homes were built before 1919. England has nearly 1.1 million residential buildings in Conservation Areas, and an estimated 145,000 listed dwellings. It's crucial to find the right balance between safeguarding the heritage assets of our homes, and making them more sustainable in the way they use energy.

Heritage homes, like any other, often need energy efficiency improvements. Indeed, older homes are often harder to keep warm. Traditional homes make up around 22% of the English housing stock but are responsible for 29% of total domestic carbon emissions. But there is a possibility that installing these improvements may have a negative impact on a home's character and significance. Renewable energy technologies, if not responsibly sited, may also impact upon a heritage property's setting.
How can the energy efficiency of historic buildings be improved without harming their character?

Ensuring that there are responsible local planning policies, and that development decisions are well informed and sympathetic, will encourage a more integrated approach to tackling heritage conservation alongside the social and environmental issues of inefficient homes.

CSE is working with English Heritage, The National Trust and others to develop policy and technical guidance, as well as information for householders, on the sustainable use of energy in traditional dwellings (generally defined as pre-1919 and solid-walled). We're also delivering training and events on the Sustainable Retrofit of Traditional Heritage Buildings. Contact CSE for more information about professional training and support.

For homeowners, we have just developed a 'Love Your Old Home' workbook, which guides homeowners through a four-step process to find out what makes their home historically significant, and what that means for the types of energy efficiency improvements they could make. Download the workbook for free:

This project follows in the footsteps of our Warmer Bath project which included publication of a guide on improving the energy efficiency of traditional homes in Bath. Download the Warmer Bath publication here: Warmer Bath


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