It's National Preservation Month; Why You Should Care

Having co-opted Steve Mouzon's phrase The greenest brick is the one already in the Wall, we note that this is the first day of National Preservation Month, in the US,

designed to raise awareness about the power historic preservation has to protect and enhance our homes, neighborhoods and communities - the places that really matter to us.

But also, Heritage is Green. Here is a roundup of some quotes from our posts explaining why:

Steve Mouzon:

Originally, before the Thermostat Age, the places we built had no choice but to be green, otherwise people would freeze to death in the winter, die of heat strokes by summer, or other really bad things would happen to them.

The Greenest Brick is the One That's Already in the Wall

Richard Moe:

Before demolishing an old building to make way for a new one, consider the amount of energy required to manufacture, transport and assemble the pieces of that building. With the destruction of the building, all that energy is utterly wasted. Then think about the additional energy required for the demolition itself, not to mention for new construction. Preserving a building is the ultimate act of recycling.

Quote of the Day: Richard Moe on "This Old Wasteful House"

Sam Lubell:

The way is paved for renovation, preservation, adaptive reuse, infill development, and interiors projects. And that's a good thing. The truism is worth repeating: The greenest architecture is building from what's already there.

In Hard Times It's Time For Renovation and Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Rehabbing our older and historic buildings to be more energy efficient offers two major environmental benefits. First, it directly reduces the energy needed to operate our buildings. Second, when we retrofit our existing buildings rather that constructing anew, we avoid the negative environmental impacts associated with new construction — e.g. all that carbon that we send up into the atmosphere when we extract resources from the earth's surface and turn them into building materials.

ReFab Now: We Can Solve It Gets Renovation

Richard Moe:

It's often alleged that historic buildings are energy hogs — but in fact, some older buildings are as energy-efficient as many recently-built ones. When the General Services Administration examined its nationwide buildings inventory in 1999, it found that utility costs for historic buildings were 27% less than for more modern buildings. In fact, data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency suggests that buildings constructed before 1920 are actually more energy- efficient than those put up between 1920 and 2000.

It's not hard to figure out why. Many older buildings have thick, solid walls, resulting in greater thermal mass and reducing the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling. Buildings designed before the widespread use of electricity feature transoms, high ceilings, and big, operable windows for natural light and ventilation, as well as shaded porches, overhanging eaves and other features to reduce solar gain. Architects and builders used careful siting and landscaping as tools for maximizing sun exposure during the winter months and minimizing it during warmer months.


GreenBuild: Richard Moe Has a Tough Row to Hoe

Diane Keaton:

We've treated old buildings like we once treated plastic shopping bags -- we haven't reused them, and when we've finished with them, we've tossed them out. This has to stop. Preservation must stand alongside conservation as an equal force in the sustainability game. More older and historic buildings have to be protected from demolition, not only because it affects our pocketbooks but more important because it threatens our environment. Let's face it, our free ride at the expense of the planet is over.

Diane Keaton on How We Treat Old Buildings Like Plastic Bags
More from Bill McDonough, Donovan Rypkema and Richard Moe

Tags: Architects | Ban Demolition | Green Building

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