"Old is the New Green" According to National Trust For Historic Preservation
Talk about planning ahead. I love this story:
"In the late 14th century, England's King Richard II commissioned a new building, College Hall, at Oxford University. The carpenters who built College Hall knew that the massive oak beams spanning the great hall's ceiling would probably need to be replaced in a few hundred years, so next to the building, they planted a row of oak seedlings from the trees they used for the beams. Sure enough, the beams needed to be replaced about 300 years later, and the new carpenters had mature oaks right there, ready to be milled and turned into new beams."
Old is the New Green is the theme for Preservation Month, and the Trust goes on and makes a pretty good case for it. They have a lot of useful information to prove it; judging from the Pella ads in every newspaper you would think that replacing your windows was a sensible money saving idea, but they suggest that it can take decades or even centuries to recoup your investment. See their Window guide to going green.
Their tips for greening main street buildings make sense too, noting:
Many factors contributed to the decline of energy efficiency in commercial buildings, from the passage of the Interstate Highway Act to the advent of air conditioning. But the good news is that, after decades of neglecting the energy-conserving features of older commercial buildings, communities throughout the nation have a new appreciation for the environmentally friendly features of older buildings.
Older main street buildings are ideal models of sustainability. There is simply no method of construction that is more environmentally responsible than rehabilitating an old building.
They explain why in Greening Main Street Buildings