A fascinating webinar hosted by the British Property Federation and Historic England yesterday morning explored the challenges of balancing the decarbonisation of our built environment and the preservation of historical and cultural assets. 

Topics discussed by the panel of speakers, who drew on their experiences of managing three of the largest central London estates, included how to simultaneously maintain the comfort of tenants, continue to preserve heritage assets and reduce energy consumption across their assets. It was heartening to hear the panel talk about accomplishing the seemingly impossible, with retrofitted units in listed buildings achieving EPC energy efficiency ratings of A. 

Talk turned to the practical constraints of installing new technology into historic buildings, with ceilings often needing to be dropped to achieve this, without compromising original features. The need for planning policy and guidance to be clearer and more consistently applied across heritage assets was also discussed, as was the imperfect methodology of the current EPC rating system. 

But, of course, "every little helps" and it was acknowledged that responsible landlords looked not only at how they could improve energy efficiency in the context of larger works schemes, but also in every day actions. The replacement of normal light bulbs with LEDs, the insulation of pipe work, draft proofing, the addition of smart meters and procurement of green energy were all cited as small steps landlords can take, which together will have an appreciable effect on the decarbonisation of our built environment.