Greening & Historic Preservation – Top Ten Tips
- Know Your Building: Many older building have passive heating and cooling systems designed right into them. Learn how your building/home works so that you do not prevent these systems from working (example: operable windows, natural ventilation).
- Find Photos of the Building in its Prime: Photos may reveal awnings and plantings that helped shade the building that should be added back to the design to maximize natural cooling capacity.
- Whole Building Design: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir, founder, Sierra Club: In planning a renovation or expansion project for a historic building learn how the building’s systems work together, retain building materials where possible, recycle what you cannot reuse.
- Respect the Windows! Old windows were fabricated from old wood. It’s generally denser and lasts longer than the new wood used for modern windows. Repair and maintain them when possible rather than replacing.
- Reveal Natural Lighting: Look for transom lights, fanlights and skylights that have been painted over or covered up and restore them to maximize natural light in the space.
- Use What You Already Have! Inspect, maintain and repair your existing roof.
- Beware Moisture: When insulating interior walls be careful not to create an environment where more moisture is created/released as this can damage building materials (example: when insulating stone/brick wall structures the exterior wall will be colder than it was previously, slowing the process of evaporation of wetness on the surface, and consequently causing it to stay damp and leading to damage).
- Insulate Unfinished Basements / Crawlspaces: Unfinished spaces beneath the ground floor with rugged walls and dirt, brick, or fieldstone foundations? Install the insulation on the basement ceiling or between the first floor joists. The insulation’s vapor barrier must be facing up.
- Diminish Solar Installation Visibility: Consider installations that do not harm building materials (free standing) or those that are building materials themselves (solar shingles).
- Consult an Expert: No one is expected to know everything! Find preservation experts that can help you balance sustainable building practices with preservation and restoration techniques to help you achieve these two goals. They really are complementary goals, not competing goals!
- Sustainable Historic Preservation | Whole Building Guide
- Preservation Brief 3: Conserving Energy in Historic Building | National Park Service
- Historic Preservation and Green Building: A Lasting Relationship | Environmental Building News | January 2007
- Greening Historic Buildings | Governing.com | April 2010
- National Trust for Historic Preservation