25/10/18 Preserving historic buildings is more sustainable than building new ones

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

In the North East we are lucky to have such a rich history. Whilst our historic environments and buildings are undoubtedly fantastic to look at and explore, they contain within them knowledge and evidence of skills from centuries ago. Which is why rebuilding, restoring, maintaining and upgrading sites and buildings of historical importance is essential to understanding our nation’s heritage. As an industry we have a responsibility to help people to enjoy and learn from these environments now and preserve them for future generations.

We’re often talking about how the industry has upped its game in terms of technology over the last few years, but for almost every piece of new tech, there are energy-efficiency lessons to be learned from historical buildings. Existing buildings can often be energy efficient through their use of good ventilation, durable materials and spatial relationships. Before air conditioning, structures used passive environmental control from cross-ventilation windows to shutters and bricks that helped keep out the sun. The high thermal mass of stone, as seen in most Victorian buildings, retains warmth in winter and cools in summer. When properly renovated or restored, old buildings can use less energy than modern buildings, even those that are ‘sustainable’. We must ensure we learn from the past and use appropriate methods and materials to secure their future in the most sustainable way. Preservation and restoration are the ultimate form of recycling. It helps reduce waste and ensures that buildings work in the way in which they were designed.

Here at Constructing Excellence, we understand the importance of preserving and maintaining historic assets. It’s an important part of protecting the character of a city, making it an attractive place to live, work and visit. Which is why we dedicate an award to the Preservation and Rejuvenation of buildings each year at our Constructing Excellence North East Awards. The category is one that holds a special place in my heart as it focuses on restoring and preserving the history and culture of the region, something I’m very passionate about.

We are hosting a breakfast briefing on Wednesday 7 November, looking at the restoration of North East buildings and structures. The event will feature speakers from Sunderland City Council, Datim Building Contractors and Space Architects looking at the restoration of Roker Pier, Lindisfarne Castle and the Darlington Hippodrome; some of the biggest restoration projects in the North East in the last couple of years. All three cases studies were shortlisted at our awards earlier in the year, with Lindisfarne Castle winning, Darlington Hippodrome taking away the highly commended award and Roker Pier receiving a Special Award.

To register for this event please contact Grace on 0191 500 7880 or email grace@cene.org.uk