Weatherization Guide for Older & Historic Buildings

Not since the days of the oil crisis in the 1970’s have Americans been so focused on energy consumption, especially weatherization. Just as the cost of heating and cooling has risen, so has the awareness of just how much energy seeps out of an average home every day. Central to this discussion is the role of older and historic buildings – and making them more energy efficient without jeopardizing their unique character.

Check out the new Weatherization Guide for Older & Historic Buildings from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for ways to improve the energy efficiency of your old building without compromising the historic integrity.

The Lessons of Old Buildings are New Again

“Often targets for wrecking balls, existing older buildings are a recognized but sadly underutilized repository for lessons in history, technology, economics, social structure, culture, and on and on. Now we are being told that existing buildings are also the source of a whopping 43% (some say higher) of our country’s carbon footprint and that demolition and new construction bumps this number up even more. But on the bright side, as a result of dealing with the problem, existing buildings could become a locus for developing awareness of sustainable, green building practices…”

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Great Article on Sustainable Design

I read an article called A Sustainable Proposal today that stands out in its request to place the burden of proof for demolition on the requester, rather than making the preservation community have to make the case for why a particular building is worthy of saving. Some excerpts:

“Preservation laws were added late, and as a reaction to urban renewal. They were promoted by people who had spent years studying architecture and saving the homes of famous people, so they came up with historical and architectural criteria to use to define which sites and districts should be saved. But if we REALLY care about sustainability, isn’t that system backwards? Shouldn’t the default option be re-use of our communities, not their demolition? Same goes for the buildings within. For years developers asked for lists of buildings worth saving and preservationists provided them.

Shouldn’t it be up to others to come up with criteria for why a building should be added to a landfill, why it should be converted into metric tonnes of dust blanketing its neighborhood and materials hauled in from China and Brazil to construct, with more dust and debris, its replacement? Shouldn’t the burden of proof be on the destroyer to show why their decision is best, why the replacement will be a NET GAIN for the community? The idea of the net zero house is just that – it CONTRIBUTES to the community. Certainly there are many situations where demolition and replacement would meet the criteria and contribute to the community. How come I have to PROVE my case but they don’t?”

Why Save Historic Windows

There are a lot of window replacement manufacturers out there trying to convince homeowners that they will save energy and money by replacing their historic wood windows. This approach not only removes original historic fabric from buildings but also costs homeowners much more in the end and starts and endless cycle of wholesale replacement every 10-20 years or so. The following presentation was the outline for a recent presentation in St. Petersburg on the issues that historic building owners need to be aware of before writing the big check to replace their original wood windows given by Tampa Preservation board member, Jo-Anne Peck of Historic Shed.