Historic England's Push for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Listed Buildings

January 31, 2024

In a groundbreaking move towards sustainable energy practices, Historic England has released invaluable guidance for homeowners seeking to enhance the energy efficiency of historic buildings. The newly published Historic England Advice Note (HEAN) serves as a beacon of clarity, aiming to streamline the planning process for eco-friendly upgrades while preserving the unique character of listed buildings across England.

HEAN encourages the installation of solar panels and heat pumps, hearlding a transformative shift toward renewable energy sources in the preservation of cultural heritage. WIth a focus on reducing carbon emissions, these initiatives align seamlessly with Historic England's ambitious net zero goals.

Embracing innovative technologies, such as air source heat pumps and solar panels, holds the promise of significantly lowering energy consumption in historic buildings while respecting their architectural integrity. Historic England emphasizes the importance of striking a delicate balance between eco-friendly upgrades and the preservation of the special character of listed buildings.

While acknowledging the potential visual impact of solar panel installations, Historic England asserts its support for such endeavours, provided they do not result in "unacceptable harm" to the building's heritage value. Although listed building consent remains a prerequisite for solar pv panel installations, Historic England advocates for greater flexibility among local authorities to approve these requests in alignment with carbon reduction objectives.

Similarly, the encouragement of heat pump installations comes with a caveat emphasising the need for meticulous care to prevent any adverse impact on the building's aesthetic appeal. While recognising the potential challenges posed by externally mounted air source heat pumps, Historic England underscores the importance of assessing each installation on a case-by-case basis to mitigate any potential harm.

Historic England's proactive stance underscore its commitment to promoting sustainable energy practices while safeguarding the nation's architectural heritage. By providing clear guidance and fostering collaboration with homeowners and local authorities, Historic England paves the way for a greener, more sustainable future for England's historic buildings.

As homeowners and conservationists alike embrace the imperative of sustainable energy, Historic England's guidance serves as a beacon of inspiration, empoiwering individuals to play a pivotal role in the preservation of our shared cultural heritage while advancing toward a net zero future.

Minister for Housing and Communities, Baroness Penn, emphasises the importance of safeguarding the nation's historic homes while enhancing the lives of those residing in them. The overarching goal is to align these efforts with the UK's commitment to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Minister for Arts and Heritage highlighted the responsibility of homeowners as custodians of historic properties and underscores the need to streamline processes for preserving these invaluable assets.

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