Preserving History Can Be ‘Green’

Preserving History Can Be ‘Green’

 ~ Samantha Lewis

ESFH‘The greenest building is the one that isn’t built yet’. This is an old saying, yet not exactly a true one. When people think about history – the historic buildings that were constructed far before LED lighting, geothermal heating and cooling units, etc., were even invented – they believe that these old structures can cause nothing but harm. They believe that the new ‘green’ technology can simply not be combined with the creations of our past ancestors in any such way that would bring health to their neighborhood. However, what many architects and builders have learned is that new and old ways can come together to create a perfect blend of ‘green’.
Continuing to build when there are so many unused buildings already on the streets of America – structures that have either been closed down or simply abandoned – takes money out of the taxpayer’s pocket, while at the same time doing damage to their neighborhood. And by simply knocking them down, we also destroy a piece of our own past. Despite environmental negatives in regards to old buildings, the full potential they have for positively affecting the environment is there. All that needs to be done is a little rehabilitation and restoration to bring the old back to life, thereby keeping our history intact.


Rebuilding and revamping a historic property can meet with many naysayers. When it comes to the green movement and wishing to make our world better and cleaner, battles can begin on both sides of the proverbial fence. Luckily, in the past two years, an urge has grown in both preservationist and naturalist – both green advocates and history lovers who now wish to keep the past in place by just ‘tweaking’ an older building in order to provide clean, healthy energy.


Now that ideas and hard work have been put into place, it has now become a belief that: ‘the greenest building may just be the one that was built long before our time’ – just waiting to be rediscovered and cared for.


There is a nationwide system set in place when it comes to the United States – from the federal level to the state and local levels – that works onBank Vault a daily basis to protect and preserve history, and to offer extra incentives for building owners who choose to ‘green the past’.


It is the National Park Service that oversees the National Register of Historic Places. This particular ‘arm’ of the government, creates the
official federal list of districts, sites, structures, and buildings that deserve to be updated and kept for the next generation to enjoy. At least half-a-century old, these buildings in particular are truly significant when talking about our ancestors. The superb architecture makes them literal landmarks. And once the National Register recognizes and protects properties, the ‘greening’ of said property can begin.


What many do not know is that historic buildings were traditionally designed with a variety of sustainable features that were set in place for both climate and location. When these features are restored and reused, the country will see substantial energy savings. And when you take into account the buildings’ original design, 2014 sustainable technology can supplement these features without ever compromising the unique historic look and design of the building.


Spacious-Greenwich-Village-Repurposed-Water-Tank-1There are greening projects happening all over the country right this minute. The need for preservation is what keeps our nation’s history and culture alive. However, with the climate threats, as well as the threats of humankind against the land and its attributes, it is truly important that we make sustainable living a priority. By doing this work, the public benefits become two-fold, with preservation and sustainability working together for a common goal.
So before taking a side; before looking at that abandoned building that may be stunning to the ‘eye’ because of its craftsmanship, yet deciding it is nothing but a waste of energy – take a moment. You are not only looking at the incredible work of your ancestors, but you are giving them a much-needed facelift by using green technology.


Honor the past by updating it for the future!



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