Reducing the carbon footprint of your Victorian or Edwardian home

As we respond to the climate emergency, what changes can we make to Victorian and Edwardian houses to increase their energy efficiency without spoiling what is special about them?

Reducing the carbon footprint of your Victorian or Edwardian home

Victorian and Edwardian houses are our future. They are very popular with owners, and most of them are still likely to be around in fifty or a hundred years’ time. Yet the climate emergency is upon us, and we need to do what we can to mitigate its effects. The Victorian Society campaigns for change at a high level to end policies such as permitted development demolition – but what reasonable changes can we make to our houses to increase their energy efficiency, without spoiling what is special about them?

This is something that the Society has long cared about. Here are some of the presentations from our seminar at the QEII Conference Centre, London, on 11 November 2008. These documents are copyright of the presenters, and appear here for information only. The contents do not necessarily represent the views of the The Victorian Society.

Historic England has also published information on improving the energy efficiency of older buildings.

Old home, Super home

John Doggart, Chairman, Sustainable Energy Academy
Building new carbon-neutral housing is all very well, but it is the improvements we make to the vast existing housing stock which will make the biggest impact on our carbon footprint. How can heritage be transformed to meet 21st century energy requirements without destroying what is special about it?

  • Read about the Sustainable Energy Academy’s ‘Superhomes‘ project, watch video walk-thrus and find out where there is one near you.

Energy efficiency: Making real and effective improvements

Richard OxleyOxley Conservation
There are many ways available to improve the energy efficiency of the existing building stock – but do they result in real and effective improvements for the environment, the building and the occupants? It is imperative that any improvements made to the existing building stock are real and effective otherwise targets will not be met; we will only be paying lip service to the problems that this and future generations face. The lessons learnt from building conservation can inform how to make real and effective improvements and what improvements need to be avoided.

Renewable energy and microgeneration

Caroline Cattini, Senior Building Services Engineer – Building services Engineering and Safety Team, Historic England
Solar panels, wind power and heat pumps. What works in an ordinary house, what doesn’t, and some things to think about.

How to be an ‘eco-householder’

Jonathan Clarke, Director, Energy Solutions (Thame) Ltd
Historic houses can have many hidden energy advantages which should not be overlooked. What simple behavioural and other changes can we make, and how effective are these intstant carbon savings?

Case study: Camden eco-home

Sarah Harrison transformed her Victorian house as an example of how older homes can be redesigned for modern living and meet eco-friendly standards. Emissions have been reduced by 80%, and it’s in a conservation area.

Case study: Nottingham eco-home

Gil Schalom and Penney Poyzer’s Victorian villa has been refurbished in a low energy and ecological way. It is a showcase of green features including super-insulation solutions, rainwater recovery, low flush loos and foul waste composting, solar hot water and wood burning boiler and a variety of natural / non toxic finishes.

  • We don’t have Gil and Penney’s presentation available, but you can find out all about their house at:

Keeping on the right side of the regulations

David McDonald, Chairman of the London Branch of the IHBC, and Conservation and Design Team Leader at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, outlines what permissions and approvals might be required for ordinary houses, houses in conservation areas, and for listed buildings.

Other useful links