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?”