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Sustainable construction and cultural heritage

The days of building for today and forgetting about tomorrow are less common, thanks to EU-wide efforts to deliver tools, technologies, methodologies, indicators and policies to those in the best position to use them effectively – builders and building authorities.  

Sustainable construction implies more than just building new homes, offices and factories, it also means using sustainable materials, safe building practices and new technologies taking into consideration, for example, engineering risks and the damage caused by climate change and urban pollution. It means encouraging builders and developers to employ sustainable construction methods and materials to reduce noise, disruption and waste in urban settings (see SHE).

Cultural aspects, too

Urban (re)development has too often focused on maximising space and utility at the expense of cultural heritage. Protecting cultural heritage – both indoor and outdoor – from the ravages of time is not just for the benefit of tourists and admirers of art and culture, it also serves as a reminder of the past and a valuable (cultural) asset for years to come.

But keeping these cultural artefacts in good condition requires painstaking work and cutting-edge research and technology – i.e. chemical analysis, climate studies, materials science, archaeology, sociology, etc. – by multidisciplinary teams. The new tools, technologies and standards produced by European research projects are already being applied to solving real problems (see COMPASS).

SHE is a series of projects testing the feasibility of constructing sustainable housing – 714 cost-effective, energy-efficient and innovatively designed dwellings in eight cities – for all social groups. When the project ends in 2008, planning and construction ‘best practices’ will be made available to designers, citizens and policy-makers (see www.she.coop ).

COMPASS is compiling clear guidelines and an ‘expert system’ to help managers of built cultural heritage (architect, consultants, owners and heritage authorities) choose which compatible (salt resistant) render and plaster mortars to use (see www.compass-salt.org).

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