Track 1: Effects of Climate Change in Warm Weather Coastal Regions
Cultural heritage is both impacted by climate change and a source of resilience for communities. Cultural heritage-based solutions to greenhouse gas (GhG) mitigation and climate change adaptation offer enormous potential. Nonetheless, there are literally thousands of heritage professionals and supporters who have not conceptualized their work within the framework of climate action. This is so even in jurisdictions that have made ambitious climate action pledges. Increasingly, thought, this paradigm is flipping and heritage actors are claiming a seat at the climate action table.
Nowhere is the acceleration of this paradigm flip more urgent that in the area of decarbonization. The 2018 Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Global Warming of 1.5°C found that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities" and that global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.
The imperatives explicit in the IPCC targets create both opportunities and challenges for those working with the historic environment. Increasingly heritage work will face the expectation that historic places be brought to Zero Net Carbon (ZNC). Both regulatory, market and policy considerations will require accelerating the ZNC of existing and historic buildings and places, accounting for both embodied carbon and operational carbon emissions. This urgency exacerbates the risk for maladapted strategies, particularly if the heritage sector is not prepared to engage in the debate at scale.
Generalized notions of sustainability will give way to the need to scientifically calibrate interventions in the historic environment to the GhG reduction targets of the relevant jurisdiction. Key interventions include (1) reusing vacant and underutilized buildings, (2) electrification of existing buildings, (3) retrofitting buildings for operational efficiency, (4) decarbonizing the supply chain for rehabilitation project materials and (5) microgeneration on historic buildings, to name a few. But what is the comparative impact of these in terms of helping cities and regions to meet their GhG reduction targets? How do we begin to measure the contribution of heritage to the achievement of these targets? What should be the response of the heritage sector if the measured contributions of the sector under current design standards do not achieve needed numerical GhG reduction targets?
This session will give a policy overview of the work of the Zero Net Carbon Collaborative for Existing and Historic Buildings (ZNCC) and the efforts of its member organizations to mobilize the heritage sector to help communities achieve their GhG reduction targets. It is meant to lay the foundation for a series of linked presentations that further explore key facets of these questions.