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Home » Future of Property » Retrofitting listed buildings: preserving the past while working towards the future

Simon Tranter

Head of Sustainability, The Howard de Walden Estate

Andrea Merrington

Director of Planning and Engagement, The Howard de Walden Estate

Learn why retrofitting is crucial to ensure historic properties succeed alongside changing environmental and societal demands.

Listed and historic building owners face the challenge of balancing architectural preservation with modern energy efficiency standards, navigating strict regulations, preservation guidelines, structural limitations and high costs.

Retrofitting listed buildings

Simon Tranter, Head of Sustainability at The Howard de Walden Estate, and Andrea Merrington, Director of Planning and Engagement, highlight the work underway to retrofit all buildings within the estate.

“Howard de Walden manages 95 acres in Marylebone; a diverse property portfolio of healthcare, office, retail & leisure, residential and education buildings,” says Tranter.

Merrington considers the challenge between celebrating and preserving the heritage of buildings while also making them energy-efficient. “We are looking to decarbonise all properties, removing all gas and improving energy efficiency. We have over 285 different listed buildings, meaning we are working through them one by one; opportunities for standardisation are limited,” she says.

“Our Harley Street Medical Area is one example where we’ve achieved great success in retrofitting and repurposing historic buildings. One Harley Street, for example, is a retained façade project that will see the building completely rebuilt in the most sustainable way possible.”

We are always looking to maximise every
opportunity to promote sustainability.

Simon Tranter

Long-term decarbonisation goals

Merrington believes that Howard de Walden can act as a catalyst for change and lead the way. “We have a responsibility to take a long-term view. It is a challenge, but it is also a really exciting opportunity to see where these buildings can go and what can be achieved,” she says.

Tranter considers two of the biggest opportunities as reducing the environmental impact of buildings, alongside retrofitting to promote decarbonisation. Going a step beyond compliance, Howard de Walden are committed to measuring and reducing their embodied carbon across all projects. “We are always looking to maximise every opportunity to promote sustainability,” he adds.

Driving sustainable partnerships for net zero

While the introduction of green clauses ensures occupiers are adopting responsible building practices, Tranter stresses the importance of working in partnership with other businesses that have a similar level of commitment towards net zero carbon emissions.

As part of the Sustainable City Charter, in partnership with Westminster City Council, Howard de Walden has the opportunity to report on projects and share knowledge. “We are introducing assessments predicting in-use whole building energy performance, which not only demonstrates improvement but verifies the processes being used behind the scenes, informing future projects,” Tranter explains.

Merrington concludes: “The framework to deliver our strategy encourages extensive involvement, with people throughout the estate team stepping up to support delivery of sustainability.”

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