There is a new document that has recently been published to provide ideas and advice for energy efficient improvements for historic buildings. This document, “Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Historic Preservation” is available from the “Clean Air Cool Planet” (CA-CP) website.
First a note about CA-CP. This is a non-profit organization whose mission is “Finding solutions to global warming”. The work I am familiar with is in the ‘Communities’ section where they provide the Small Town Carbon Calculator, documents on getting an Energy Committee started in your town, and resources to help you find funding and write grant proposals. Good stuff.
Very recently they published this document for Historic District Commissions to help these groups as well as individuals with historic buildings incorporate energy efficiency in historic preservation.
Why should we care about this issue? Today, if you write down the list of things you should do in a renovation to preserve the historic distinction and you write down the list of things you can do to make a building more energy efficient, there is not a lot of overlap. It can be very difficult to renovate for both energy efficiency AND historic preservation.
This problem hits home for me because I bought an 1850’s house in Enfield Village, NH, and I run the Energy Emporium — a business focused on green, energy efficient and renewable energy products. I want to renovate this building saving as much historic significance as I can, but my primary goal is a net zero energy building. [Renovation details and updates can be found at: 78 Main St – Renovation.]
So I have started reading this document and other opinions on historic preservation. Right away I am happier about the decision to renovate rather than tear it down and build new. By saving the shell of this building I am preserving a good amount of its ’embodied energy’. I like this term since it seems to represent both the spiritual energy of all the people who lived here as well as the original extraction and construction costs it took to build it, over 150 years ago. By shoring up the bones of this building, rather than tearing it down, we begin our renovation project with a great energy savings and historic preservation. It’s also on Main St in a town where I can walk to the Library, the Town Hall, the police station, public transportation, a park, a convenience store, laundromat, the post office, and the rail trail — saving transportation costs.
Ok… now that I feel good about that decision… onto the windows and the roof. These are quite a bit tougher. Historic preservation says wood double-hung windows. Energy efficiency says fiberglass casements… stay tuned… this one is going to take a lot longer to resolve.
What do you think?