UK heritage sites part of climate change solutions says new report

Image: Photovoltaic panels on the south-facing slope of Gloucester Cathedral's medieval roof © St Ann’s Gate Architects

Featuring case studies of heritage sites from across the UK, the report compiled by Historic Environment Forum comes ahead of COP26.

The UK heritage sector is “united in its response to climate change” , says a new report published today by heritage coalition Historic Environment Forum.

The report, Heritage Responds, charts how heritage organisations in the UK are taking positive action against environmental challenges.

It brings together the expertise of 26 of heritage organisations including English Heritage, Historic England and the National Trust, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

The report highlights examples of research, carbon reduction and maximising the potential of the historic environment in the heritage sector.

Through case studies on the likes of Gloucester Cathedral, the Church of England at Bath Abbey, and Grade II listed Art Deco Jubilee Pool in Penzance, it hopes to document the investment in traditional low-carbon building adaptation techniques, nature-based solutions to mitigate future impacts, and renewed efforts to increase the lifespan of heritage assets.

The Jubilee Pool won the sustainability prize at this year’s Museums + Heritage Awards for creating the UK’s first pool using geothermic heat.

The Jubilee Pool Penzance project, supported by the Architectural Heritage Fund © Jubilee Pool Penzance Ltd

“As the world turns its eyes to COP26 in Glasgow, this work intends to highlight the positive contribution heritage organisations and their partners are making to the debate, the actions needed to adapt to a changing world, and how heritage itself is part of the solution,” explained Historic Environment Forum Chair Dr Adrian Olivier.

Historic England’s Chief Executive, Duncan Wilson added: “These case studies illustrate that the historic environment is a powerful catalyst for tackling the dual challenges of climate change – the need to deliver the transition to net zero and to adapt to a new climate.”

Bath Abbey’s newly restored floor features eco-friendly underfloor heating which uses renewable energy from Bath’s famous hot springs © Stephen Girling

National Trust’s Placemaking and Heritage Director, Ingrid Samuel said: “No one organisation can address climate change alone. In the run up to COP26 we’re delighted to have contributed to a report that represents the heritage sector coming together to share what we’re all doing, to find out what works and what doesn’t, and to support each other to tackle climate change.”

The report can be downloaded via the Historic Environment Forum’s website.