Good to see a letter in The Times yesterday on The Green Deal, albeit under the slightly misleading headline ‘Insulation is bad for old buildings’. Signed by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Kevin McCloud, The National Trust, Loyd Grossman, Chair Churches Conservation Trust and many other organisations and individuals from the conservation sector, it called for Government to consider the needs of older buildings as part of The Green Deal.
The signatories are seriously concerned that the drive to promote the complete thermal upgrading of pre 1919 buildings could be storing up expensive future problems for both building fabric and human health. Inappropriate forms of insulation and the sealing up of interiors take little account of the fact that these buildings, of which there are millions, perform differently from modern ones and need to ‘breathe’. They are likely to require a different approach, in particular with regard to the movement of moisture within them.
The letter concludes: “While we strongly support the aim of reducing carbon emissions from the nation’s building stock, we call on the Government to involve bodies knowledgeable about old buildings in research and planning for The Green Deal. Many of these bodies already have helpful research to contribute but to date have not been called on to do so.”
These concerns are worth heeding as there is a very real risk that, at some point in the future, we may find ourselves rectifying defects due to the use of ill judged techniques and materials. Worse still, and far from being sustainable, such work may result in the loss of some of the buildings that we cherish and which provide valuable housing stock.
Image credit: PRP Architects