A measurement framework to increase transparency in historic preservation decision-making under changing climate conditions
Today, cultural heritage planning and decision-making operate under considerable climate, political, and financial uncertainties and constraints. Consequently, decision-makers are often left making value-laden judgments of what to preserve, restore, and maintain in their best judgments, which can leave them open to criticism for not protecting the cultural resources most important to various and diverse stakeholder groups. Thus, a transparent and robust process to optimally maintain cultural heritage values for present and future generations is needed. We address this knowledge gap by developing a novel, transparent, and value-based measurement framework for assessing relative “historical significance” and “use potential” of diverse historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places (United States). Measures of historical significance include: the association of a building with the purpose of a NPS site's foundation, the current physical condition of a building, the building's historic character, and National Register listing criteria. Specific measures of use potential consider the importance of historic building's operational, third party, visitor, interpretative, and scientific uses. The application of the framework is presented using a subset of buildings located within two separately listed historic districts at Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina. The framework focuses on the current status of the cultural resource's significance and use potential while acknowledging that corresponding attributes, metrics and weights can change over time and should be regularly updated. It is hoped that the historical significance and use potential framework can assist the decision-makers and stakeholders, and better inform both the cultural heritage management and allocation prioritization for climate adaptation planning when it is applied in tandem with climate change vulnerability assessments.