21 June 2024

Empowering local heritage conservation through social exchange

ICLEI Members Izmir (Türkiye) and Athens (Greece) are taking strides to preserve the cultural heritage of historic buildings in their cities, all the while doing so in a resource efficient manner. In recent weeks, a series of Social Labs have been launched aimed at fostering resource-efficient use of cultural heritage.

Izmir and Athens are particularly well-positioned to leverage the insights from these Social Labs, established through the INHERIT project, of which ICLEI is a partner. A critical takeaway from these sessions is the value of transdisciplinary dialogue in addressing systemic legal and conservation challenges. By engaging public authorities, local energy providers, community representatives, and other stakeholders, the Social Labs facilitate a holistic approach to preserving heritage buildings while incorporating modern energy efficiency measures.

Central to the workshops is the integration of digital tools and methodologies to optimise resource use, enhance energy efficiency, and bolster the resilience and accessibility of heritage structures. Participants have been actively discussing potential risks and constraints, which ensures a comprehensive understanding of the renovation landscape. The New European Bauhaus initiative provides a crucial framework, guiding the project’s focus on heritage beauty, sustainability, and inclusiveness.
Local Social Labs play a pivotal role in gathering citizen feedback, which experts will analyse to assess the social value of heritage buildings and gauge public acceptance of proposed solutions. This collective intelligence approach, coupled with community engagement, is vital to crafting practical, real-world scenarios.

For Izmir and Athens, embracing these practices means fostering sustainable partnerships between users and experts, laying the groundwork for resilient, energy-efficient heritage conservation. Additionally, these cities will benefit from an innovative capacity-building programme developed by ICLEI Europe's Built Environment, Culture, and Heritage team. This programme aims to raise awareness about the importance of heritage conservation and equip professionals—from historians to engineers—with the interdisciplinary skills needed to enhance resource efficiency in heritage buildings.

As the INHERIT project progresses, it promises to make significant strides in the sustainable preservation of cultural heritage, benefiting not only the pilot locations but also setting a benchmark for heritage conservation across Europe.

Learn more here.