IHBC & partners hit a high note in trade press on Green Deal concerns

The IHBC, with partner bodies the SPAB and COTAC, have highlighted in the construction sector press their concerns over the damage the government’s Green Deal initiative might cause to the historic environment.

The success of the initiative has helped set the scene for supportive responses to government consultations by bodies such as RIBA, which is calling for ‘skilled specialist attention to find the most appropriate solutions’ for ‘vulnerable historic and traditional older buildings’.

Ecobuilding Magazine summarised the position:

… criticisms [of the plans for the Green Deal] have been raised by the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), the Conference on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC) and other conservation professionals following a national conference on Improving Thermal Performance in Traditional Buildings held by COTAC last month. Their concerns follow the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) launch on 23 November of a consultation into the Green Deal plan, and the announcement of a further £200 million funding boost for the initiative that will enable homes and businesses to install energy-saving measures in their properties with no upfront costs.

‘When modern energy efficiency solutions are used on older buildings they can be extremely harmful. The Green Deal’s ‘one size fits all’ approach will cause unnecessary damage to the character and fabric of historic buildings and incur significant long-term costs for property owners while wasting millions of pounds of public money’ said John Preston, IHBC education secretary.

‘The application of external insulation, which is a key part of the Green Deal initiative, will be particularly damaging to historic and traditionally constructed buildings by changing their appearance, dimensions and methods of collecting and discharging rainwater. These structures need to ‘breathe’ and moisture trapped within walls could lead to serious health risks for both occupants and buildings,’ commented David Heath, chairman of SPAB.

Parallel responses to the related Green Deal consultation from DECC have highlighted these concerns directly to government.

John Preston, lead author on the IHBC’s response, raised concerns that the Green Deal procedure ‘needs to fully recognise the contributions that pre-1919 unprotected buildings (as well as those which are listed or in a Conservation Area) make to the historic environment… assessors are not currently adequately trained in this area.’

He also highlighted the challenges, as ‘Green Deal assessors will need to be trained in traditional building construction, including local vernacular materials and techniques. They will need to be able to identify defects and repairs needed to remedy them; they will also need to understand how a combination of solutions can be best suited to the needs of each individual property. They will need to understand how traditional buildings perform in terms of heat loss, ventilation, and condensation risks. They will also, and equally importantly, need to have the expertise to be able to offer behavioural advice to help property owners reduce energy consumption.’

For public reports on conservation concerns over the Green Deal see:

Refurb: LINK

Museums & Heritage: LINK

Eco Building Magazine: LINK

Government Opportunities: LINK

The Construction Index: LINK

Housing News: LINK

UK Construction: LINK

Construction Now: LINK

For the IHBC’s response to the current DECC consultation see: LINK

For the announcement of the RIBA’s response see: LINK

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