Frequently Asked Questions About Heritage Sustainability
1. What is the B.C. Heritage Branch doing to promote sustainability?
We are working with individuals, organizations and government branches to promote the conservation of the historic built environment. Through workshops and forums, we attempt to advise and educate on what it means to preserve and rehabilitate older buildings and make them environmentally friendly. We also fund projects that encourage rehabilitation. The
Heritage Sustainability Report is a result of the Simon Fraser University City Program forum on Heritage Conservation & Sustainability in February, 2006.
2. What makes older buildings "green"?
In addition to operating costs,
embodied energy must be considered when examining the environmental impact of a building. If you tear a building down and send its materials to a landfill, you waste all of its stored energy. If you replace the older building with a new one, you use additional energy. For more on what makes older buildings environmentally friendly, see
Heritage Conservation and Sustainability.
3. Why should traditional buildings be upgraded?
Upgrades reduce operating costs, make a building more environmentally friendly, improve comfort within the building and prolong the life of the building. This rehabilitation also makes our communities more attractive for residents and visitors. Visit our
Greening Your Home page for additional information.
5. Should I replace my traditional windows with new windows?
Repairing your traditional windows is almost always more cost effective and environmentally friendly than replacing them. The payback period of replacing historic wood windows is estimated at over 30 years, and despite "lifetime warranties" offered by manufacturers, vinyl frames have a life expectancy of only 20-25 years. Additionally, new windows are often made of environmentally harmful materials, such as vinyl and aluminum, that require a lot of energy to manufacture and are difficult to recycle, while traditional windows are constructed of strong timber. Visit our
Materials pages for additional information.
6. Will upgrades compromise the heritage value of my home?
Although there are challenges associated with energy efficiency upgrades of traditionally constructed buildings, older buildings can be environmentally friendly without compromising their character defining features. Alterations should conform to the
Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.
7. Does the government offer financial assistance for property owners upgrading their buildings?
There are several programs that offer grants for individuals and organizations seeking to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. Before financial assistance is awarded, many programs require property owners to first hire a
certified energy advisor. An advisor can suggest improvements and help plan retrofits, as well as apply for grants on your behalf. Visit our Financial Incentives page for more information.
8. Why are buildings demolished?
According to one Canadian study examining the reasons for demolishing 227 residential and commercial buildings in St. Paul, Minnesota, most buildings are demolished because of area redevelopment. Despite the majority of buildings being 51-100+ years old, only eight buildings had structural problems or other materials or system problems.