The environmental impacts of cultural heritage buildings: a circular economy perspective

  • Gillian Joanne Foster (Contributor)
  • Kreinin, H. (Contributor)

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


Adaptive reuse of cultural heritage buildings to new uses that reflect the changing needs of communities is an important aim of today’s sustainable city planners. These buildings are historically and culturally significant, creating a distinct character that is integral to the identity of the place. Nevertheless,in practice, their continued use and preservation is often determined when compared to an alternative, such as demolition or new “green” building construction. On what basis are these decisions made? In order to answer this research question, we critically reviewed the current literature for case studies of adaptive reuse of cultural heritage sites as well as the literature presenting methods for evaluating adaptive reuse of cultural heritage buildings. We review these from a circular economy perspective. We found that although there are many disparate methods applied for assessing environmental impact in the main: (1) energy, specifically climate change impact defined as modeled fossil fuel and related carbon dioxide avoided is discussed; (2) other environmental impacts such as water use impact and air pollution are relatively lacking; (3) environmental impacts are conceptualized and measured at different landscape scales and levels of detail making comparisons or aggregations difficult. (4) Circular Economy perspectives are not explicitly discussed. Further, we see an implementation gap between the European Union level environmental indicators of circularity and how project data are managed. To our knowledge, this is the first in depth treatment of the methods in practice for the environmental impact assessment of adaptive reuse of cultural heritage sites from a circular economy perspective.
Period6 May 20197 May 2019
Event titleScience and Technology Studies Conference Graz 2019
Event typeUnknown
Degree of RecognitionNational

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 509
  • 201128 Sustainable building
  • 405004 Sustainable agriculture
  • 401905 Renewable resources
  • 502022 Sustainable economics
  • 207106 Renewable energy
  • 105904 Environmental research