The Building Conservation Directory 2022

170 T H E B U I L D I N G CON S E R VAT I ON D I R E C TO R Y 2 0 2 2 C AT H E D R A L COMMU N I C AT I ON S CHANGING CLIMATES Making the right choices for historic buildings JOHN EDWARDS S INCE THE creation of the first conservation accredited scheme by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 1992, several more schemes have been developed by other bodies. However, all these were primarily for consultants, from architects and archaeologists to surveyors and engineers. It was not until recently that the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) developed one for specifically for the contractors. There are several reasons why such schemes were established, not least of which was the disproportionate focus on modern construction in sector training. Although a huge proportion of buildings in the UK are traditionally constructed, the education provided to both the crafts and the professions overlooks the special requirements of these buildings. This results in unlisted traditional buildings being treated as if they were modern structures, which leads to their deterioration and poor performance. We normally classify traditional buildings as being built before 1919, which would equate to around one quarter of UK building stock. Other definitions would suggest that the number of traditional buildings is far greater than this. For example, the one used by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in their retrofit standards defines a traditional building as one with solid vapour-permeable walls or a timber frame building built before 1919. When considering that definition it is more likely that a third of UK building stock is of traditional construction. It is now well known that treating a traditional building as if it is modern is fraught with risks, so it seems nonsensical to exclude traditional and historic buildings from mainstream construction and property education. The result is that clients will not know if individuals have appropriate expertise at the right level, unless they contact members of a building conservation competency scheme (normally known as accreditation, but also certification). Accreditation or certification under a competency scheme enables individuals to demonstrate that they have been independently assessed and that they are competent within their role in building conservation. Over time, an increasing number of clients and heritage organisations have started to require certification or accreditation of at least some individuals for historic building projects. This makes sense, not least because it minimises their risks. The establishment of the CIOB scheme has broadened out the range of roles eligible for accreditation to include construction managers, works supervisors and others normally found in building contracting organisations. While demand for membership of the CIOB scheme is still low within construction organisations, membership does allow individuals to demonstrate their own competence. Conservation contractors also go through a more rigorous process than other specialists to be placed on select lists of those allowed to tender for work. Having staff and managers who can demonstrate their competence in building conservation should help them in any tender assessment that involves a quality/price mechanism. The criteria for all building conservation competency schemes are broadly the same and set out in the education and training requirements of the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). In addition to these, the CIOB has responded to the climate emergency by including the need to ensure that individuals are also knowledgeable and competent regarding energy performance and sustainability of buildings. Like all building conservation accreditation systems, the assessment for membership of the CIOB scheme requires an individual to demonstrate and evidence their competence through work examples. To doubly ensure that individuals are truly competent, if applicants don’t already hold a qualification in building conservation, they are required to undertake the CIOB two- day Understanding Building Conservation course. This covers the broad range of issues involved in building conservation, but with a heavy emphasis on how to deal with significance, as poor understanding of this aspect is perceived to be a common weakness. The course also touches on energy efficiency and sustainability in a holistic sense which provides applicants with a good idea of what the scheme assessors will be looking for in this area. Improvement in the energy performance of buildings is paramount when it comes to tackling climate change. This is driving a huge expansion of the retrofit sector and the establishment of standards and guidance by BSI. PAS 2035 for example, which is the standard specification for retrofitting domestic buildings of all kinds and ages, details levels of competencies and qualifications that different roles require. PAS 2038 is the equivalent for non-domestic buildings and in a general sense is similar to PAS 2035. Where traditional buildings without special protection have been treated as if they are modern, this has primarily involved the application of incompatible materials and components. In particular, vapour-impermeable materials are The author with trainees on the CIOB two-day Understanding Building Conservation course