Is it all about the windows? Residents' values in residential heritage buildings

Wise, Freya; Moncaster, Alice and Jones, Derek (2023). Is it all about the windows? Residents' values in residential heritage buildings. In: Acta Polytechnica CTU Proceedings, Czech Technical University, Prague, 38 pp. 592–598.



Reducing energy and associated carbon emissions from the built environment is funda- mental to meeting our climate goals. Retrofit of existing buildings is therefore a key strategy. Heritage buildings present particular challenges for retrofitting because of their traditional construction and need to retain historic values. Replacing windows is often a critical element of a low energy retrofit, but for heritage buildings this can be problematic.

This paper explores the values that residents invest in their windows, and the opportunities and challenges for retrofitting heritage fenestration. Qualitative data from 16 case studies of heritage buildings in the county of Cumbria, UK, is examined to gain a greater understanding of residents’ views, which are often neglected in policy approaches. Findings show that residents, in both designated and undesignated heritage buildings, value their original windows and appreciate the thermal benefits of traditional features such as shutters or curtains. Residents generally considered complete window replacement unacceptable but were more positive about options such as secondary glazing or internal shutters. Challenges, including costs and finding skilled tradespeople to produce shutters or undertake restoration were identified. The paper concludes with the implications of these findings for retrofitting heritage fenestration for carbon reduction.

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