This section will help you to describe the importance of building conservation.
The first section provides impressive statistics to back up your case.
The second section provides ideas to help you to develop your local case.
Retention and conservation make good environmental sense
Buildings have been identified as the largest single source of energy use, waste, and omissions into the atmosphere. Close to half of the greenhouse gases produced in Canada come from buildings.
Buildings are vast storerooms of energy
It takes energy to extract raw materials from the earth and energy to manufacture finished building materials, more energy to transport those materials to a construction site, and still more energy to assemble the building. All of this energy, the total energy required to produce and maintain the building over its entire lifecycle is known as embodied energy. If a building is demolished and taken to the landfill, the embodied energy is wasted. There is a tremendous impact on the environment when something new is built. Avoiding new construction by retaining and reusing heritage buildings is an ecologically conscious decision.
Buildings are producers of carbon
Carbon emitted through building construction, including the entire process of extraction, fabrication, transportation, and assembly is called embodied carbon. When an existing building is demolished and a new building is erected, the carbon footprint is much larger than that of a retrofitted or rehabilitated building, in which its life-cycle carbon is largely already spent.
New buildings do not provide simple answers
While new buildings meeting today’s highest energy efficiency standards typically consume less energy for heating and cooling than older buildings without energy-saving retrofits, demolition of a heritage building ignores the fact that many new building materials require a tremendous amount of energy to produce and most cannot be reused or recycled.
Impacts in numbers
Analyzing available Canadian data, Parks Canada provided the following information in the report “Historic Places Matter”:
But, action is needed
It is estimated that more than 20% of Canada’s built heritage was lost between 1970 and 2000. (Heritage Research Associates Inc., CIHB Revisited, 1999)
Heritage conservation and sustainable development are not synonymous movements, but they align where it matters most: in their mutual passion for enhancing the relationships people have with their built environments. Sustainability concerns people and change, and heritage does not dwell on the past but seeks to understand today and the future.
Use the intrinsic-instrumental-institutional framework to develop a well-rounded case for building conservation. Here are some suggestions to help you get started. (Read this short introduction to our recommended approach to making a case.)
What are people saying about specific buildings and heritage areas?
Use the proceeding section and the sources to convey irrefutable evidence of the relationship between heritage conservation and environmental sustainability.
In this case, you may want to consider how the built environment adds value to your community.
New South Wales Heritage Branch. “Heritage & Sustainability: A Discussion Paper” January 2004, Pg. 9
Building Resilience: Practical Guidelines For The Sustainable Rehabilitation Of Buildings In Canada (source)
National Trust for Historic Preservation, “ Sustainability by Numbers,” (source)
“U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Database.” (2012). National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012 (source)
Carroon, Jean. 2010. Sustainable Preservation: Greening Existing Buildings.New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.: 7.
Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling: A Literature Review. Dalhousie University Office of Sustainability, 2011
Vancouver Heritage Foundation Green Guide (source)
Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling: A Literature Review. Dalhousie University Office of Sustainability, 2011 (source)