Special Issue "Built Heritage Conservation and Climate Change"

A special issue of Heritage (ISSN 2571-9408).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. John J. Hughes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley PA1 2BE, UK
Interests: climate change and cultural heritage; conservation; historical building repair; material characterisation and performance
Dr. Alexandre S. Gagnon
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
Interests: applied climatology; climate variability and change; cultural heritage; water resources
Dr. Elena Sesana
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of the West of Scotland, Paisley PA1 2BE, UK
Interests: conservation and restoration of cultural heritage; mitigating climate change in the built heritage sector; sustainable architecture and zero energy buildings; vulnerability and adaptation of cultural heritage to climate change

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Climate change promises to have a significant impact on cultural heritage, in all its forms. The context of the tangible Built Heritage—historical buildings, sites and internal collections—is particularly critical, as it is exposed directly to environments that engender decay. Layered on this is the potential, arguably now being realised, for an increase in extreme events such as flooding, compounded by gradual sea level rise, landslides and fire. The need for assessment of vulnerabilities and planning for adaptation to protect heritage assets against the impacts of climate change is clear, and responsible authorities, from the local to the international (e.g., UNESCO), are preparing policies and policy development guidelines. Moreover, there are pressures to adapt historical buildings to increase their energy efficiency to meet climate change mitigation targets. However, cultural heritage poses arguably a special case in terms of limits of acceptable change for both mitigation and adaptation. Inclusion of cultural heritage in the periodic reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been growing, though anecdotal evidence suggests that insufficient research continues to undermine its recognition as an area of priority.

Recognising the components of vulnerability as specified by the IPCC, we invite papers for this Special Issue analysing:

  • Methodological approaches to assess vulnerability in the built heritage sector;
  • Links between vulnerability and adaptation in the built heritage sector; mainstreaming climate change in built heritage conservation;
  • What adaptive measures are used to deal with current vulnerabilities in the built heritage sector? Assessments of interventions to reduce vulnerability and facilitate adaptation of cultural heritage;
  • Is adaptation in the built heritage conservation sector mostly reactive or also anticipatory? What is the learning process in adapting cultural heritage to climate change?
  • Limits to adaptation; how can we adapt historical buildings to mitigate climate change while preserving their authenticity?
  • Lessons learned in adapting cultural heritage to mitigate climate change and increase its resilience to climate change impacts.

Dr. John J. Hughes
Dr. Alexandre S. Gagnon
Dr. Elena Sesana
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Heritage is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Climate change and world heritage
  • Adapting cultural heritage to climate change impacts
  • Local knowledge and adaptation at heritage sites
  • Mainstreaming climate change in built heritage conservation
  • Strengthening resilience of built heritage to climate change
  • Mitigating climate change and preserving built heritage authenticity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Performance of a Salt-Accumulating Substitution Lime Render for Salt Laden Historic Masonry Walls
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 3879-3891; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4040212 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 319
Abstract
Salt crystallization is one of the main decay processes in historic masonry mortars, and climate change can worsen the salt weathering effects on those materials as result of, e.g., more often rain falls, more intense solar radiation and sea level rise. In this [...] Read more.
Salt crystallization is one of the main decay processes in historic masonry mortars, and climate change can worsen the salt weathering effects on those materials as result of, e.g., more often rain falls, more intense solar radiation and sea level rise. In this paper, the effectiveness and durability of a substitution “ventilated render” system (a two-layer render, with base and outer layer and “vertical grooves” in the base layer) on a full-scale salt laden masonry wall to reproduce conditions that may be found in real cases was investigated. The crystallization at the interface between render layers and in vertical grooves and the effect of the porous structure on salt crystallization were thoroughly investigated. It was highlighted the reliability of the results of the salt crystallization testing procedure on a full-scale masonry wall to attest the efficiency and durability of the render system. Finally, it was proven that the ventilated render system with water repellent in the outer layer is durable and efficient enough to be used as a substitution render on salt laden historical masonries, acting as a salt accumulation render where salts preferably crystallize in, delaying the damage on the outer surface without introducing harmful effects in the masonry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Built Heritage Conservation and Climate Change)
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Article
A New Approach to Studying Traditional Roof Behaviour in a Changing Climate—A Case Study from the Mediterranean Island of Malta
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 3543-3571; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4040196 - 17 Oct 2021
Viewed by 406
Abstract
The behaviour of traditional roofs affects issues relating to sustainability, zero-carbon targets, and Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. This paper discusses an innovative approach towards understanding the behaviour of porous, and other types, of roofs in Malta in relation to temperature and moisture [...] Read more.
The behaviour of traditional roofs affects issues relating to sustainability, zero-carbon targets, and Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. This paper discusses an innovative approach towards understanding the behaviour of porous, and other types, of roofs in Malta in relation to temperature and moisture characteristics, and to project this behaviour onto a changing climate, predicted to be hotter and drier. The new methodology is being trialled on four roof types, on historic buildings, the innovation being the use of data from co-temporal Earth Observations (EO) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), in conjunction with in-situ data. This research is helping to develop a new application for Remote Sensing in Cultural Heritage; results should enable recommendations for sustainable use of traditional roof-building techniques. The initial results show that the traditional roof has different (reflective and emissive) properties from the hybrid roof, that are being detected from space, complemented with UAV, hand-held thermal camera and in-situ measurements. These results are preliminary; satellite images for spring/early summer and mid-summer and the corresponding UAV images are expected to provide more conclusive information. These promising results should enable the proof-of-concept to progress onto a larger number and greater variety of roof types, even in other Mediterranean countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Built Heritage Conservation and Climate Change)
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Article
Effect of Indoor Climate and Habitat Change on Museum Insects during COVID-19 Closures
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 3497-3506; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4040193 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 136
Abstract
COVID-19 spread globally and, as there was little immunity, quarantine, isolation, and social distancing became widely practiced. As people were restricted to their homes in many countries, public venues, such as museums, galleries, and historic houses, were typically closed. This allowed insect abundance, [...] Read more.
COVID-19 spread globally and, as there was little immunity, quarantine, isolation, and social distancing became widely practiced. As people were restricted to their homes in many countries, public venues, such as museums, galleries, and historic houses, were typically closed. This allowed insect abundance, under changed conditions, to be explored using traps from the Technical Museum, Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Museum, and Weltmuseum in Vienna. The trap contents reveal an increase in Lepisma saccharinum, the common silverfish, as well as in the Zygentoma Ctenolepisma longicaudatum and C. calvum at some museums. Other insects such as Tineola bisselliella, Anthrenus verbasci, and Attagenus smirnovi, though found in reasonable numbers, did not increase. Museum interiors were likely a little cooler and drier during lockdown, but this difference is too small to explain the increased silverfish activity. The larger rooms were certainly quieter, which allowed insects freedom to range more widely. Nevertheless, museums did not observe increased damage to collections from the larger numbers. The infestations during the closures suggest a need for low level cleaning and regular inspections, with an initial focus examining those areas frequented by insects in the past. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Built Heritage Conservation and Climate Change)
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Article
Traditional and Modern Plasters for Built Heritage: Suitability and Contribution for Passive Relative Humidity Regulation
Heritage 2021, 4(3), 2337-2355; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4030132 - 10 Sep 2021
Viewed by 385
Abstract
Plasters have covered wide surface areas of buildings since antiquity, with a main purpose of indoor protection of the substrate on which they are applied. When no longer functional, they might require substitution with solutions that can combine compatibility with the substrate with [...] Read more.
Plasters have covered wide surface areas of buildings since antiquity, with a main purpose of indoor protection of the substrate on which they are applied. When no longer functional, they might require substitution with solutions that can combine compatibility with the substrate with the current need to mitigate building emissions. Indeed, plasters can contribute to lowering buildings’ energy demands while improving indoor air quality and the comfort of buildings’ users, as plasters can be used as passive regulators of relative humidity (RH). Hence, this study presents the relative-humidity-dependent properties of different plastering mortars based on clay, air lime, and natural hydraulic lime, and plastering finishing pastes based on gypsum and gypsum–air lime, in all cases tested using small size specimens. A cement-based plaster is also analysed for comparison. The clay-based plaster was the most promising material for RH passive regulation, and could be applied to repair and replace plasters in different types of buildings. Pastes based on air lime–gypsum could be applied as finishing layers, specifically on traditional porous walls. The sorption behaviour of cement plaster appeared interesting; however, its water vapour permeability was as expected, found to be the lowest, discouraging its application on historic walls. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Built Heritage Conservation and Climate Change)
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Review

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Review
Retrofitting Historic Walls: Feasibility of Thermal Insulation and Suitability of Thermal Mortars
Heritage 2021, 4(3), 2009-2022; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage4030114 - 27 Aug 2021
Viewed by 388
Abstract
The European Union is pursuing an ambitious policy on climate action, urgently calling for an acceleration in the transition toward net-zero emissions by 2050. In this context, retrofitting historic constructions can play a key role in reducing European energy consumption and consequent emissions. [...] Read more.
The European Union is pursuing an ambitious policy on climate action, urgently calling for an acceleration in the transition toward net-zero emissions by 2050. In this context, retrofitting historic constructions can play a key role in reducing European energy consumption and consequent emissions. What is more, beyond the opportunity for tackling climate change, thermal retrofits can improve indoor comfort while lowering operational costs, factors that are fundamental to ensure the continued use of historic constructions over time, and with that, improving their preservation and durability. The suitability of thermal insulation for this scope is still a debated topic. Thus, this study aims at contributing to the discussion by providing an overview on the feasibility of adopting thermal insulation for retrofitting external walls of historic buildings while preserving their significance and unique identities. Finally, the advantages of adopting thermal mortars rather than more traditional insulation solutions are outlined, and their potential efficacy is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Built Heritage Conservation and Climate Change)
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Review
Influence of Environment on Microbial Colonization of Historic Stone Buildings with Emphasis on Cyanobacteria
Heritage 2020, 3(4), 1469-1482; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/heritage3040081 - 30 Nov 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 871
Abstract
Microbial cells that produce biofilms, or patinas, on historic buildings are affected by climatic changes, mainly temperature, rainfall and air pollution, all of which will alter over future decades. This review considers the colonization of stone buildings by microorganisms and the effects that [...] Read more.
Microbial cells that produce biofilms, or patinas, on historic buildings are affected by climatic changes, mainly temperature, rainfall and air pollution, all of which will alter over future decades. This review considers the colonization of stone buildings by microorganisms and the effects that the resultant biofilms have on the degradation of the structure. Conservation scientists require a knowledge of the potential effects of microorganisms, and the subsequent growth of higher organisms such as vascular plants, in order to formulate effective control strategies. The vulnerability of various structural materials (“bioreceptivity”) and the ways in which the environmental factors of temperature, precipitation, wind-driven rain and air pollution influence microbial colonization are discussed. The photosynthetic microorganisms, algae and cyanobacteria, are acknowledged to be the primary colonizers of stone surfaces and many cyanobacterial species are able to survive climate extremes; hence special attention is paid to this group of organisms. Since cyanobacteria require only light and water to grow, can live endolithically and are able to survive most types of stress, they may become even more important as agents of stone cultural property degradation in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Built Heritage Conservation and Climate Change)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: A review of study methods for traditional roof behaviour – towards a new approach under a changing climate
Authors: Cassar, J.; Galdies C.; Muscat Azzopardi E.
Affiliation: University of Malta
Abstract: The behaviour of traditional roofs of historic buildings is highly relevant to sustainability, energy efficiency of the internal space, and potential resilience to climate change. This paper is a review of pertinent study methods which serve as a basis for a recently commenced project (in Malta, central Mediterranean). The ultimate aim is to evaluate the behaviour of some of these roofs and to compare this to the behaviour of modified and modern roofs, also on historic buildings. This new approach will combine satellite, drone and in situ data at various levels of detail, not only to evaluate the seasonal effectiveness of these intrinsically porous roofing materials to act as “buffers” to existing climatic variables (especially temperature and moisture movement) but also potentially in changing (hotter) climates. The methodology is a development of contemporary studies on “cool roofs” and “green roofs”, and is embedded within the closely related themes of climate change and historic building behaviour, as well as advances in high resolution satellite technology including Remote Sensing data and Artificial Intelligence in data fusion and interpretation, which will also be reviewed. The relevance of the project to sustainability and energy efficiency of historic buildings, also under a changing climate, will be discussed and presented with practical implications.

Title: Influence of environment on microbial colonization of historic stone buildings, with emphasis on cyanobacteria
Authors: Christine C. Gaylarde
Affiliation: Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA
Abstract: Microbial cells that produce biofilms, or patinas, on historic buildings are affected by climatic changes, mainly temperature, rainfall and air pollution, all of which will alter over future decades. This article considers the colonization of stone buildings by microorganisms and the effects that the resultant biofilms have on the degradation of the structure. Conservation scientists require a knowledge of the potential effects of microorganisms, and the subsequent growth of higher organisms such as vascular plants, in order to formulate effective control strategies. The vulnerability of various structural materials (“bioreceptivity”) and the ways in which the environmental factors of temperature, precipitation, wind-driven rain and air pollution influence microbial colonization are discussed. The photosynthetic microorganisms, algae and cyanobacteria, are acknowledged to be the primary colonizers of stone surfaces and many cyanobacterial species are able to survive climate extremes; hence special attention is paid to this group of organisms. Since cyanobacteria require only light and water to grow, can live endolithically and are able to survive most types of stress, they may become even more important as agents of stone cultural property degradation in the future.

Title: RETROFITTING HISTORIC WALLS: feasibility of thermal insulation and the suitability of thermal mortars for the scope.
Authors: Magda Posani; Maria Do Rosário Veiga; Vasco Peixoto De Freitas
Affiliation: 1 Building department, LNEC – National laboratory of Civil engineering, Lisbon, Portugal 2 CONSTRUCT(LFC – Laboratory of Building Physics), Faculty of Engineering (FEUP), University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
Abstract: In order to contrast the escalating climate crisis, the European Union is pursuing an ambitious policy on climate actions and it is urgently calling to accelerate and underpin the transition towards net-zero emissions by 2050. In this context, retrofitting historic constructions can play a key role in reducing European energy consumptions and consequent emissions. What is more, beyond the opportunity for tackling climate change, thermal retrofits can improve indoor comfort while lowering operational costs, factors that are fundamental to ensure the continued use of historic constructions over time, and, with that, improving their preservation and durability. The suitability of thermal insulation for this scope is still a debated topic. Thus, this study aims at contributing to the discussion by providing an overview on the feasibility of adopting thermal insulation for retrofitting external walls of historic buildings, while preserving their significance and unique identity. Finally, the advantages of adopting thermal mortars rather than more traditional insulation solutions are outlined and their potential efficacy is discussed. Keywords: historic buildings, thermal mortars, thermal insulation, thermal retrofit, renders, plasters, energy efficiency, thermal conductivity, heritage, climate change.

Title: Traditional plasters for built heritage: contribution for relative humidity passive regulation
Authors: Alessandra Ranesi; Paulina Faria; M. Rosário Veiga
Affiliation: 1. CERIS and Dep. Civil Engineering, FCT, NOVA University of Lisbon, Quinta da Torre 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal. 2. National Laboratory for Civil Engineering, Avenida do Brasil 101, 1700-066 Lisbon, Portugal * corresponding author. e-mail address: [email protected] , tel: (+39) 3899975619, address: Avenida do Brasil, 101, 1700-066 Lisboa, Portugal.
Abstract: Plasters cover wide surface areas of buildings since ancient time with the main purpose to protect the substrate on which they are applied. When no longer functional, they might need to be substituted by solutions which can combine compatibility with the substrate with the nowadays need of mitigating buildings emissions. Indeed, plasters can contribute to lowering buildings energy demands while improving indoor air quality and comfort of buildings’ users, as they can be used as passive regulators of relative humidity. Hence, this study presents the relative humidity dependent properties of different plastering mortars based on clay, air lime and natural hydraulic lime, and finishing pastes based on gypsum and gypsum-air lime, tested through small size specimens. A cement-based plaster is also analysed for comparison. The clay based plaster is the most promising material for relative humidity passive regulation and certainly appropriate for substitutions in traditional earthen constructions. Finally, for application on traditional porous walls the highest relative humidity passive regulation is performed by the pastes based on air lime-gypsum. The sorption behaviour of cement plaster appeared interesting, however its water vapour permeability was found the lowest, as expected, discouraging its application on historic walls. Keywords: plaster, mortar, paste, water vapour permeability, hygroscopicity, moisture passive regulation, clay, gypsum, air lime, natural hydraulic lime.

Title: Effect of climate and habitat change on museum insects during COVID-19 closures
Authors: Peter Brimblecombe; Marie-Christine Pachler; Pascal Querner
Affiliation: National Sun Yat-sen University
Abstract: COVID-19 spread globally, and as there was little immunity, quarantine, isolation and social distancing became widely practiced. As people were restricted to their homes in many countries, public venues, such as museums, galleries and historic houses were typically closed. This allowed insect abundance, under changed conditions, to be explored using traps from the Technical Museum, Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Museum and Weltmuseum in Vienna. The trap contents reveal an increase in Lepisma saccharinum, the common silverfish, but also the Zygentoma Ctenolepisma longicaudatum and C. calvum at some museums. Other insects such as Tineola bisselliella, Anthrenus verbasci and Attagenus smirnovi, though found in reasonable numbers, did not increase. Museum interiors were likely a little cooler and drier during lockdown, but a difference too small to explain increased silverfish activity. The larger rooms were certainly quieter, which allowed insects freedom to range more widely. Nevertheless, museums did not observe increased damage to collections from the larger numbers. The infestations during the closures suggests a need for low level cleaning and regular inspections, with initial focus examining those areas frequented by insects in the past.

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