Retrofit/culture & heritage
Existing buildings in cities account for more than 60% of carbon dioxide emissions. Whilst new build can help reduce this footprint, retrofitting has to make a significant and rapid contribution; a transformation all the more challenging in the higher density and compact downtown.
Achieving this whilst retaining built heritage and the urban fabric which has cultural significance is one of the tensions associated with the move towards achieving and sustainable, net zero city centre. To date most insight has come from individual building conversions or from specific sites. Such piecemeal change needs to be accelerated and scaled up - with examples such as the 2030 Districts in the US providing examples of how transformation across the city centre can be achieved.
The greenest buildings are almost inevitably already built. Offsetting the carbon generated in manufacturing and constructing anew makes it usually less desirable. But scaling up retrofitting needs innovation, rethinking construction processes and changes in pricing to incentivise new approaches and faster returns to encourage investment.
The built heritage of the city centre is fundamental to its identity, and its image as a destination and sense of belonging and economically at the heart of tourism. But it is also important for sustainability, not least in terms for example of its embedded carbon. New ways are emerging of how to retain built cultural heritage within a greener, smarter city centre.
Scaling up to the downtown
Achieving a significant and rapid reduction in emissions, energy usage and carbon footprints of the city centre's built environment needs existing interventions to be scaled up. The 2030 District model - providing financial toolkits, shared visions for the districts, and collaborative support - is helping to achieve area-wide transformations in emissions related to energy, water and transportation
Find out more about studies and initiatives across the world which are demonstrating how tensions between retention of built heritage and cultural symbols and reduced carbon footprints can be achieved. Click on titles for access.
dos Santos Dolce Uzum & Soares Goncalves (2021) Architectural Science Review, 64 (1-2), 56-71
In this context, the objective of this research is to quantify the thermal performance of compact economic housing in these buildings and formulate design guidelines with emphasis on the façades