Location of the initiative:
Relation to Strategy 21 Recommendations:
Time span of the initiative:
Start Date: 2009 / End Date: 2020 – can be prolonged
Motivation / Methodology
The Portal for Building and Restoration Advice is a website intended for people who live in or work with old houses, initiated in cooperation between the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment and The Federation of Norwegian Construction Industries (BNL).
The overall objective of the Portal for Building and Restoration Advice is to encourage and contribute to the use, management and restoration of old buildings and to reduce damage and loss of cultural heritage. The main focus area is buildings built before 1950.
The aim of the initiative in the period 2016-2020 is to:
· Provide owners and the building and construction sector with knowledge and information;
· Knowledge and information made available by Bygg og Bevar shall give the different actors and stakeholders relevant information in order to enable them to select appropriate solutions according to the building’s age, construction, materials and style;
· Be easily accessible, visible and understandable for all relevant audiences;
· Make owners of heritage buildings and sites more able to choose the right expertise and craftsmen;
· Motivate private companies to increase their knowledge and contribute to a well-functioning market for the restoration and rehabilitation of old buildings;
· Share knowledge about climate and environmentally friendly solutions, including knowledge about the lifespan of different materials, the reuse of materials and energy efficiency;
· Be a unifying network for the different actors in the field.
Obstacles / Barriers
The Portal for Building and Restoration Advice brings to the public much of the same information that is available on the official cultural heritage web sites, but with a different and more common language. This has a big impact and their articles are widely spread and read.
The dialogue between companies in the construction industry and the institutions and bodies working on behalf of conservation has previously been blighted by suspicion and reservations. Terminologies commonly used within conservation have been used in alternative contexts within construction, causing misinterpretations and poor communication. The understanding of conservation, protection or preservation has been undermined by the desire for new builds to the detriment of older structures. Many are unaware of the high quality of building materials used in traditional buildings, and the push for energy efficiency and insulation with modern materials in the latter years has changed the way older houses are regarded. In a bid to hit modern energy efficiency and comfort expectations, special considerations should be applied. This is both high on the public agenda and achievable through the special interventions, and awareness around this has been raised as part of this initiative. It was a requirement to gather knowledge from projects relating to a range of initiatives and from different sources of research in order to present best practices and sound advice to home owners, tradespeople and manufacturers. The portal is bringing together a multitude of different opinion leaders to a common understanding and platform for further developments, in line with the desire to preserve and soundly maintain older buildings and heritage structures.
Change / Impact
The Portal for Building and Restoration Advice has seen a steady increase in users year on year.
The project was established in 2009 and the web pages were launched on 1 October 2010. Visitor numbers since the launch have reached 1 871 685 and over 3.5 million pages have been read with an average reading time of 1.39 minutes and each visit has viewed on average 1.91 pages.
Free SEO (search engine optimisation) has been the main driver to promote traffic to the portal with the main focus on Google. A range of social media has also been utilised to spread awareness of the content of the pages, and the Portal for Building and Restoration Advice has built a wide networking circle through Facebook and Instagram, comparing closely to the larger, more commercially resourced players in the relatively complex marketplace in Norway.
Reaching an audience and building awareness regarding maintenance and preservation has its own challenges. The main issues faced for buildings pre-1950 are around energy efficiency. It has been proven that insulating traditional construction without taking adequate account of ventilation and material comparatively has caused a wide array of damage, including rot, damp and fungus.
The awareness of these issues is realised as a side-thought to the vision of the perfectly restored dream home. The Portal for Building and Restoration Advice has focused on practical solutions to common problems, as opposed to focusing on the damage that the incorrect strategy may cause, and this approach has gained a significant readership and a sense that the portal is an inspiration and source of knowledge, rather than rules and regulations. The ultimate goal is to enable home owners to increase their awareness, in order to become better project managers and planners for their own properties.
Content and case studies are collected and developed by a network of sources including research societies, trade organisations within the specialist areas of restoration and conservation, as well as bloggers and journalists. There is an emphasis on accessible language to engage all levels of pre-knowledge regarding the different specialist areas.
With a focus on inspiration and sound advice, it has proven possible to reach a wide user group, including property owners, craft specialists and trades people who regularly or less frequently work on historical buildings and character houses and may not be aware of the different solutions and materials that should be used when renovating older properties.
An important target audience is the trade professionals. The Portal for Building and Restoration Advice has, in addition to the compilation of information, identified an important goal to strengthen the marketplace for services around maintenance and conservation. By highlighting the wealth of competences within Norwegian construction companies specialising in traditional crafts and methods, we are contributing to maintaining the market interest for the services. In turn, this aids the awareness and interest in traditional trades by the property owners, allowing them to make concerted, quality decisions on solutions, materials and choice of craft professionals to complete the work. This will then help secure these trades for future generations, as companies invest in apprenticeship schemes to educate the next generation in all areas of building conservation. The major educational development that has arisen parallel with the rollout of the Portal for Building and Restoration Advice is the introduction of a practical focussed, Bachelor level Degree in traditional maintenance and conservation at NTNU – Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
One of the most important findings from running this initiative is that it’s the collective cooperation between the commercial marketplace, the research establishments, voluntary organisations, individual trades professionals, governmental bodies overseeing the protection of heritage buildings and local governments that has been the key to success so far.
The portal has created a virtual meeting point where new initiatives are opened up to a wide range of stakeholders who find a common platform for cooperation and development around their chosen area of expertise.
Source of financing
Shared public / private financing