Richard Moe at Greenbuild
Richard Moe is the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He is concerned that many of our old buildings will be sacrificed on the altar of energy conservation. He writes an op-ed in the New York Times:
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.
The article is full of good ideas for fixing up old houses.
"So how does a homeowner go green? The first step is an energy audit by a local utility. These audits can be obtained in many communities at little or no cost. They help identify the sources of heat loss, allowing homeowners to make informed decisions about how to reduce energy use in the most cost-effective way.
Homeowners are likely to discover that much of the energy loss comes down to a lack of insulation in attics and basements. Sealing other air leaks also helps. This can be done by installing dryer vent seals that open only when the dryer is in use, as well as fireplace draft stoppers and attic door covers.
Experience has shown that virtually any older or historic house can become more energy-efficient without losing its character. Restoring the original features of older houses — like porches, awnings and shutters — can maximize shade and insulation. Older wooden windows perform very well when properly weatherized — this includes caulking, insulation and weather stripping — and assisted by the addition of a good storm window. Weatherizing leaky windows in most cases is much cheaper than installing replacements. "
More on building preservation and upgrading:
GreenBuild: Richard Moe Has a Tough Row to Hoe
In Hard Times It's Time For Renovation and Preservation
Building Storeys: Making Historic Buildings Hip
The Greenest Brick is the One That's Already in the Wall
Building the Green Modern Home: Looking at Windows
Diane Keaton on How We Treat Old Buildings Like Plastic Bags
Big Steps in Building: Ban Demolition
Noooo Edinburgh, Don't Lift Ban on Changing Windows in Historic Structures