Historic buildings are iconic symbols of the United Kingdom’s history and national identity. Historic homes and public structures are important relics of the sovereignty’s past that until now very much defines it.
Fairly recently, in 2014, London opened the world’s largest solar-powered bridge at Blackfriars Bridge across River Thames. Following the success of the bridge, people are now asking if solar is possible in other historic homes and structures as well.
Why the UK Needs to Convert to Solar
The UK, ranking 9th among the greatest energy-consuming nations, is making efforts to become more sustainable. Other than reducing the carbon footprint of its transportation sector, more plans and projects are being laid out in the housing sector.
England has the oldest housing stock in Europe, with 21% of structures dating back prior to 1919. Westminster alone lists 11,000 historic buildings as conservation areas, which comprise 76% of the city. To give you an idea of the environmental impact of this figure, these buildings account for about 90% of COs emissions.
Sustainable retrofits are highly important to ensure that these buildings can still perform in the future. Constructing sustainable buildings will not simply offset the current issues; it must start with the old structures.
Limitations and Possible Solutions
The UK’s commitment to reducing CO2 emissions will come with many challenges and limitations. The biggest challenge is that not all retrofits are appropriate for all structures. Older buildings also don’t perform well in terms of sustainability, thus, there is no doubt that conversions will not come cheap.
Leasehold agreements also limit a tenant’s ability to make the property more energy efficient. To install external retrofits, tenants must first request consent from landlords. To encourage landlords and tenants to invest in sustainable retrofits, provisions and benefits for energy efficiency improvements should be increased to recharge the costs.
In the past, restoring historic buildings focused on preserving their traditional character and charm. Critics noted that installing solar panels and sustainable retrofits to historic buildings will alter the structure’s aesthetics and reduce their historic value. But for certain buildings, especially those with external fittings such as windows and floors that cannot be altered, installation of solar panels is the best option.
Today, more people are embracing the idea of transforming UK’s housing stock and making them more sustainable. Instead of merely preserving historic value, the UK is gearing towards improving the performance of these historic structures so they may still be valuable in the future.