Resiliency and future-proofing are also at the core of the discussion of the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage. The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), the Association for Preservation Technology (APT), the National Trust for Historic Preservation, UNESCO, and English Heritage all have focused on this issue in recent years. The Spring 2011 issue of Conservation Perspectives, the GCI newsletter, is dedicated to the intersection of the impacts of climate change on our heritage. In this edition of the newsletter, Cassar states that climate change “poses significant challenges for cultural heritage” (Cassar 2011, 11). Much of what Cassar discusses in her article describes the need to understand the impacts of climate change on our heritage and developing policies to address these impacts. The policies Cassar promotes deal with how to respond to climate change in a way that will help our heritage endure. The concepts of future-proofing are an essential component in responding to climate change by providing the framework for implementing the policy Cassar promotes developing. In the same issue of Conservation Perspectives, Jean Caroon states in an interview that “there’s no way to make a building that doesn’t have an environmental impact,” but that “you can lessen the environmental impact by taking existing objects and extending their service life” (Caroon 2011, 19). Decreasing environmental impacts and extension of service life are two very important concepts in future-proofing. This edition of Conservation Perspectives concludes with a list of several other sources that discuss the impacts of climate change on cultural heritage and the need to respond to these impacts.
One of these other sources, APT, has dedicated a symposium to the subject. In 2004, the APT formed a Technical Committee on Sustainable Preservation and a subcommittee on climate change. The following year, the Halifax Symposium was held at the 2005 APT Annual Conference. At this symposium, several concepts were found in common between sustainability and the mission of APT. The principal concepts, summarized by Lesak (2005), include:
- understanding the importance of stewardship and planning for the future
- building to last, including material selection and treatment, craft, and traditional building techniques
- durability and service life of materials and assemblies and their implications for lifecycle assessment
- understanding extending buildings’ service lives and systems renewal
The concepts also included a system of evaluation of existing buildings that included “creating sustainable building stock (future/life-cycle) by assessing material value and energy value” (Lesak 2005, 4). The last level of evaluation included a “product rating system to establish, test, and/or confirm effectiveness, durability, life cycle impacts, [and] renewability” of building materials and products (Lesak 2005, 4). One of the latest developments at APT is a planned special issue of the APT bulletin that focuses on climate change and preservation technology (Rankin 2014). From these statements, several concepts of future-proofing are highlighted, including forward planning, durability, extension of service life including building systems, and lifecycle assessment.
UNESCO has published several documents that address climate change and heritage conservation, most notably World Heritage Report 22 titled Climate Change and World Heritage (UNESCO 2007). This report discusses predicting and managing the impacts of climate change and offers strategies for implementing responses. Much of Report 22 discusses developing better understanding of the impacts of climate change through modeling, monitoring, and research and appropriate dissemination of the information (UNESCO 2007). However, the report also discusses the need for “adaptive design” in several places and identification and promotion of “synergies between adaptation and mitigation” (UNESCO 2007, 41). The report also recommends “increasing resilience of a site by reducing non-climactic sources of stress” and “adapting to the adverse consequences” of climate change (UNESCO 2007, 11). These statements in Report 22 demonstrate the characteristics of adaptation and increased fortification of heritage sites, both of which are important concepts in future-proofing and resiliency.
English Heritage’s Conservation Bulletin dedicated its Spring 2008 issue to climate change as well, titling it “Adapting to a Changing Climate.” In this issue, Cassar identifies several key research outputs that are necessary to address climate change that are similar to the approach to resilient cities discussed above. These include “adaptations to climate change” and “damage mitigation strategies for materials and assemblies” (Cassar 2008, 11). These outputs reflect the need for heritage to be reinforced and made more durable to resist the future impacts of climate change on cultural heritage and thus reflect the goals of future-proofing and resilience.
Clearly, future-proofing, resilience and climate change have been at the center of discussions on cultural heritage both within the United States and internationally. These discussions often focus on key aspects of future-proofing and resilience, including adaptation to climate change, extension of service life, and mitigation of the effects of climate change.