Built heritage and sustainability: Perspectives on value

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The values associated with built heritage can be identified and defined in a number of different ways, often reflecting the perspective of the commentator. From the Australian perspective, the community’s commitment to heritage protection predates that of the formal legislature but has been slower to act than many other OECD nations. The National Trust of Australia, as a community organisation, championed the cause of built heritage more than two decades before the government responded by legislative action. It was not until the 1970‟s that formal frameworks were established through statutory control mechanisms for the identification and protection of Australia’s rich stock of heritage places (Irons and Armitage 2011).

Currently the national conscience is becoming more aware of the need to reduce our carbon emissions. The potential opportunity cost savings achievable by the more effective use of the resources embodied in existing built structures has re-emerged as an area of interest and the imperative for policies and practices across the board to achieve reductions in carbon pollution is becoming normalised, albeit not yet fully mandated. Set within this context, this paper seeks to review the multifaceted elements which contribute to our perceptions of heritage which may be equated to a reflection of our values incorporating yet transcending the merely economic (Ashworth 2002) and also identifies responses being developed to deal with these concerns from a sustainability perspective.

The paper considers some of the many meanings of the relevant terminology and discusses concepts of cultural heritage, of place and of value providing a preface to a review of the value of heritage from a number of perspectives. It considers the benefits of heritage conservation including potential environmental benefits, and offers a contemporary commentary on some economic, social and professional concerns with particular reference to listed commercial office premises and the need to measure carbon footprint of such buildings. Reference is also made to the role of refurbishment and carbon profiling as techniques for reducing carbon emissions based on case study examples.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResilience in Urban Design: Proceedings of the 4th International Urban Design Conference
Place of PublicationNerang
PublisherAST Management Pty Ltd
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9808147-3-6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2001


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