Study: Climate vs. monument protection

Study: How can climate protection and monument protection be reconciled?

April 24th 2024 | Frauke Scholvin

Listed buildings can contribute to climate protection. In a study commissioned by the German Federal Environment Agency, we analyzed areas of conflict, identified fields of action and discussed possible solutions to better combine monument protection and climate protection.


While monument protection serves to preserve the architectural heritage, climate protection aims to protect the natural foundations of life. Both are important concerns that often seem incompatible: a solar installation changes the appearance of buildings that are worth preserving, while an energy-efficient refurbishment leads to the loss of historic facades. However, a building that has not been renovated is energy-intensive and associated with high CO2 emissions. An insoluble conflict?


Around a third of Germany’s historic buildings are at risk or in urgent need of renovation. As part of the short study “Climate protection in listed buildings”, we state: In order for listed buildings to be preserved, they must also be able to be used and operated economically in the future. This also benefits climate protection: if the listed building stock continues to be used, additional building materials and the associated gray energy for new buildings are avoided.


The study shows that, in view of the rising cost of fossil fuels, high-quality energy-efficient refurbishments are increasingly a prerequisite for the future use of listed buildings. The challenge: Conflicts between monument protection and climate protection have so far mostly been negotiated at the level of the individual refurbishment project.


Solutions at a higher level are needed to replace the treatment of monument protection and climate protection as different areas of law, funding and knowledge with a holistic view. Promising approaches include improved approval practices, an optimized funding landscape, the development of guidelines and directives, advice and awareness-raising for owners and multi-stakeholder dialogues. In order to further develop these solutions, the goals of climate protection and monument protection must be better coordinated at federal, state and municipal level. A specialist discourse among experts is also needed. Both climate and building culture benefit from this.