Heritage and carbon

Can historic buildings help tackle climate change?

Historic buildings are central to Britain’s culture and economy. We think they can also play a leading role in the fight against climate change.

To do that, five core issues have to be addressed: policy, guidance, cost, supply chain skills and capacity in local government. It needs a joined up, integrated approach across both policy and practice.

Working with partners we have explored two of these issues – reforms of the planning system and the skills gap in the construction sector. 

Addressing the Skills Gap 

Grosvenor, Peabody, Historic England, The National Trust and The Crown Estate have collaborated to highlight the skills and training challenges that will need to be overcome to ensure the UK’s historic buildings contribute to a net zero future.

Together we have commissioned research and shared insights to help identify how businesses, industry and Government can unlock this shared opportunity. 

Our research has identified a need for 205,000 workers to focus solely on retrofitting historic buildings every year from now until 2050 to meet the UK’s net zero targets. This is more than double the number of workers we estimate currently have the necessary skills. 

Whilst a significant challenge, the opportunities this represents considerably outweigh the scale of the task. 

Mobilising to meet this challenge would generate £35bn of output annually, 290,000 jobs, more efficient homes that are less expensive to heat, in the process reducing fuel poverty and future proofing our built heritage.

Heritage & Carbon: Addressing the Skills Gap

Click here to read the full report

The full report

Click here to download Heritage & Carbon: Addressing the Skills Gap report.

Data behind the study

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Planning for sustainable heritage

In 2021 we worked with partners to advocate for planning reforms to align heritage protection and environmental sustainability much more closely in the NPPF and include policies for carbon reduction in relation to all designated heritage assets, excluding scheduled ancient monuments.

These policy changes could reduce operational carbon emissions nationwide by up to 7.7 MtC02 per year, equivalent to 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions associated with buildings in 2019.

It would also act as a powerful stimulus to the green economy and help protect a crucial part of our common heritage which gives so many people a sense of civic pride and identity across the UK.    

The argument behind this call for policy change is captured in a paper published by Grosvenor and developed in discussion with a group of consultative partners including the National Trust, Historic England, Peabody, Southern Housing Group and The Crown Estate, and written with Donald Insall Associates.

You can download the paper here.

To find out what Grosvenor is doing to retrofit its own properties, read here.

Watch the webinar

Explore the live debate with industry experts on how historic buildings can lead the charge on climate action.

Watch our webinar

Grosvenor Property UK hosted a live debate with industry experts on how historic buildings can lead the charge on climate action.

Polling results

During the webinar, we asked the audience for their views on the heritage and carbon debate

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Retrofitting the UK’s historic buildings could generate £35bn of economic output a year

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Our £90m retrofit programme

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Environmental Leadership

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