Heritage & Sustainability – A journey down one iconic street

BEFS film Heritage & Sustainability was launched at the Edinburgh Traditional Building Festival 2021

When 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 are already here, how do the long-term needs of our environment fit with the changing use of our places? A new film launched during Edinburgh Traditional Building Festival 2021 explores how our historic buildings can be valuable – and sustainable – assets for the future. 

Join Hazel Johnson, BEFS Policy and Strategy Manager, for a walk down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile as she explores how the buildings and places that make up part of the Old Town of Edinburgh play an important role in the city’s sustainable future. Stopping at key sites along the route, we find out how the historic buildings, civic sites, homes, neighbourhoods, and green spaces, all contribute towards environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability. 

We’re joined along the way by special guests: 

Gordon Barr, Architectural Heritage Fund Scotland 

Gordon uses the spectacular example of Riddle’s Court, restored with help from the Architectural Heritage Fund, to show how finding continual new uses for old buildings can ensure their longevity.  

Euan Leitch, SURF 

Euan from SURF discusses what makes good placemaking – and the phenomenon of the 20 Minute Neighbourhood, where people can meet their daily needs within easy access from the place they live. 

Mike Heffron, Under One Roof 

Maintaining shared buildings can feel like a challenge, but Mike from Under one Roof explains why keeping your tenement in good condition not only keeps them warm and dry, but sustainable too. 

Ailsa Macfarlane, BEFS 

Can buildings be part of the Circular Economy? Ailsa explores why we need complementary policymaking for the built environment to deliver a planned, proactive approach to the places we live, work, and visit. You can read the Joint Statement mentioned here, or have a look at our Advocacy Toolkit for how you can get involved in polices affecting your own places. 

Christina Sinclair, Edinburgh World Heritage 

Christina from Edinburgh World Heritage introduces us to the award-winning retrofitting project to make the B listed Canongate Housing Development, designed by Sir Basil Spence, more energy efficient. 


BEFS extends thanks to all the collaborators who made the film possible, freely giving of their time and expertise. Of particular note are those we hear from during the film – as well as John McKinney from Scottish Traditional Building Forum for the inception idea, and Tyler Lott Johnston from the Edinburgh Traditional Building Forum.