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Leah O’Neill

Heritage Consultant

Built-Heritage, Sustainability, Climate-Impact

Tell us about your background and your current role…

I am a heritage professional with over ten years experience in the private, public and voluntary sector involved in archaeology, museums, and built heritage. A scholarship from EPSRC allowed me to gain an MSc Sustainable Heritage: Built Environment and get a more holistic approach to my work in protecting and promoting heritage.

With regard to climate change what are the current issues facing your sector/area of expertise?

Awareness of issues: Over 80% of building stock in 2050 has already been built. We need to increase awareness of the potential impact of climate change on our built heritage and what adaptations can be made.

Understanding of risk: There needs to be an understanding among owners, policy makers, local authorities and heritage professionals of the importance to of taking a pro–active approach to adaptation which balances architectural and historical significance with the real risk of climate change.

With regard to climate change, what do you expect the future issues and solutions to be in your sector/area of expertise?

The heritage sector needs to further investigate the risk of climate change to heritage in Northern Ireland. We can learn lessons from areas where the affects are likely to be felt sooner and look to solutions elsewhere to inform practice and policy.

Mitigation for extreme climate events needs to be included in management strategies for built heritage.

Issue of retrofit vs. rebuild: A holistic approach to climate change needs to understand the whole–life cost of buildings and avoid mal–adaptation through carbon emissions–intensive adaption.

Invasive adaptation, which does not take into account how older buildings work.