Retrofitting historic buildings

There are many ways to improve energy efficiency and performance of historic buildings that work with traditional fabric and will not harm their special character. Standard retrofitting measures can cause damage to historic buildings, causing problems with trapped moisture. An understanding of how an individual building has been constructed, its context, and all the factors affecting energy use can help to avoid these problems. This is called the ‘whole house’ approach. Sources of advice and guidance on sensitive retrofit of historic buildings can be found below.

The council’s guide retrofitting historic buildings for sustainability provides advice on when permissions and consents are required for building efficiency upgrade measures and advice on which will be most appropriate for listed buildings, for buildings within a conservation areas and those outside a conservation area. Improving historic Soho’s environmental performance was produced by the council, English Heritage and the Soho Community Environment Fund in 2013 to look at how to apply retrofit measures in the dense yet historic, mixed use area of Soho. It includes advice on how to approach retrofitting of listed buildings and the potential for individual building retrofit to contribute towards carbon reduction targets.

Historic England have also published a suite of guidance on how to improve energy efficiency in historic buildings.

The Better Buildings Partnership is working with a wide range of partners in Westminster, including property owners, developers and the Great Estates to promote retrofitting and sustainability. The Grosvenor Estate has recently produced a toolkit on sustainable refurbishment for leaseholders ,which will also be useful for other property owners undertaking retrofitting projects. 

Other useful guidance on retrofitting has been published by the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance.


Last updated: 21 February 2020