French Stimulus Program Preserves Historic Buildings

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Charles Laughton as the Hunchback of Notre Dame

We have appropriated Steve Mouzon's line "The Greenest Brick is the One That's Already in the Wall" and have noted that the skills needed to restore our heritage buildings are the type of green jobs that will be needed for almost every building in the country. The French get this, and are spending 15% of their stimulus program funds on fixing their heritage.

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le disney version

Helen Fouquet in Bloomberg quotes Christophe Eschlimann, who says that the investment will ""help our craftsmen across all regions." and "Heritage conservation needs more than a one-year stimulus."

President Sarkozy noted last year that "It's useless to be proud of our French heritage and continue to skimp on maintaining it."

At Notre Dame, the investment will provide jobs to roofers, scaffolding builders, engravers and other craftsmen.

"Sorry to say it, but Vive la Crise!" said Benjamin Mouton, 60, the architect in charge of restoring the top of the 664-year-old Gothic edifice. "I can only applaud the state's decision to spend money right now on heritage and to get these craftsmen to work. It shows it has values, even in hard times."

In America, funds that were proposed for preserving and upgrading federal buildings is being stripped out of the stimulus plan. Yet Donovan Rypkema points out that jobs in preservation are cheaper from a stimulus point of view than, say, highway building, because they are labor rather than equipment intensive. But buildings aren't important, just more surplus government property as far as the lower taxes/less government members of the government are concerned, whereas highways are.

More in Bloomberg and Donovan Rypkema in PlaceEconomics

More on the value of fixing old buildings in TreeHugger:

The Greenest Brick is the One That's Already in the Wall
GreenBuild: Richard Moe Has a Tough Row to Hoe
Diane Keaton on How We Treat Old Buildings Like Plastic Bags
Refab Now!

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