Sustainable development—the concept of meeting the worlds current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same—has important implications for civil society, including our environmental, economic, and social well being.

Van Nelle Factory, Rotterdam
Cultural heritage professionals, working to safeguard the built environment, recognize the synergistic relationship between conservation and sustainability. However, the role of heritage conservation in achieving sustainability has not been well recognized, nor have heritage needs been well integrated into sustainability initiatives. This failure, in some instances, has led to conflict between heritage conservation efforts and environmental regulation.

On January 11, 2011, in an event organized by the Getty Conservation Institute, a panel of cultural heritage professionals discussed their own experiences in negotiating these conflicts and offered ways to move forward.


Jean Carroon is an architect and the principal for preservation at Goody Clancy, a Boston design firm of architects, planners, and conservators. She is nationally recognized for her achievements in the field of sustainable design for historic buildings, and is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Sustainability Coalition.

Susan Macdonald (Moderator) is the head of field projects at the Getty Conservation Institute. Before coming to the Getty, she was director of the NSW Heritage Office in Australia where she was involved in a wide range of conservation issues, including urban planning, development, economics, policy, and technical matters.

Jerry Podany is senior conservator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum and president-elect of the International Institute for Conservation (IIC). For IIC, he developed Dialogues in the New Century, events that discuss and consider the relationship of heritage conservation to the modern world—including dialogues on museum collections and climate change and on the often contentious interface between preservation and development in "living" historic districts.

Chris Wood is head of the building conservation and research team at English Heritage where he has worked for the last seventeen years. The team specializes in dealing with the problems of deteriorating materials on historic structures. More recently he has been working on a number of initiatives which seek to improve energy efficiency in historic buildings without causing harm to their character and appearance.

This discussion built on an earlier expert's panel, held in November 2008 and hosted by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Climate Change and Preserving Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century. Watch a video of the 2008 panel discussion.

Last updated: January 2011