Historic Preservation


Sustainability & Preservation

As communities across the country confront questions about what to do with their older buildings, there is growing recognition that sustainability needs to be part of the discussion. It’s accepted dogma that preserving historic buildings is a way to honor our past. Less clearly understood is that preservation is also a way to protect our future.

Historic Preservation and Green Building: Natural Partners

Preserving Buildings Helps Preserve the Planet: Because historic preservation involves the conservation of energy and natural resources, it’s really the greenest of the building arts.

Preservation and Sustainability: A primer on the symbiotic relationship between preservation, environmentalism and sustainable design, from LandmarkSociety.org.

Tapping the Synergies of Green Building and Historic Preservation: A exploration of how proponents of these two movements are finding ways to work together to advance their shared values. From GreenSource, the magazine of sustainable design.

What’s Old is Green: Reintroducing regionalism to green building, by Lisa Selin Davis.

Is it Greener to Build New or Renovate: A case study of Chevron’s new headquarters in New Orleans. For all the sustainable flourishes of the new campus — the walking paths, the reflective roof, the energy-efficient glass — the company overlooked perhaps the greenest option of all when it decided not to adapt the building it already had.

Integrating Green Building Technologies into Historic Structures

The Greening of Historic Properties[PDF] This White Paper from a national summit on the topic explores some of the important issues facing those seeking to retrofit historic homes.

Sustainable Historic Presevation: A review of historic buildings’ original climatic adaptations, with recommendations on how today’s sustainable technology can supplement inherent sustainable features without compromising unique historic character. From Whole Building Design Guide.

Achieving Energy Efficiency

Energy Audits for Historic Buildings [PDF] Helpful information from the City of Boulder, CO on how to find out which energy-efficient measures make sense for your home. To their credit, the city of Boulder has put together extensive guidelines. See Volume 1 [PDF] – Principles & Approaches, and Volume 2 [PDF] – Technical Details. Please note, these are substantial (60+ page) files.

For a “Small Steps” approach to achieving energy efficiencies, see the interactive illustration from Preservation Magazine Online. Many good suggestions can also be found at this site recommended by a member.

Climate change and Preservation

Kudos to the National Trust for alerting us to an excellent British website, Climate Change and Your Home, that has been designed to help owners understand the potential impacts of climate change on older homes, and how simple building maintenance can help to lessen the effects of increasingly extreme weather. The site also provides detailed advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of traditionally constructed houses while preserving their special character. A section is included on micro-generation that details how technologies such as micro-wind generation and solar thermal energy can successfully be incorporated into older buildings.