Green Investing Teams Up With Historic Preservation

p2110242The green movement in America is rapidly moving forward. Advice on investing in sustainable development comes at us from every angle, but one sector of the green market that isn't often discussed is historic preservation. It goes without saying that most historic architecture wasn't focused on sustainability or the environment, but that doesn't mean that going green plays no part in the future of historic preservation.

The question that some historic preservationists are asking now is this: why build new green structures of copper, glass and other reusable materials when we could simply reuse old buildings instead? The National Trust for Historic Preservation evidently asked themselves this question and answered it for us: "the greenest building is the one already built." And now, the Trust is reminding consumers that many historic structures are prime candidates for LEED certification.

The National Parks Service is also considering renovating many historic sights as cost-effective green buildings. Officials at Ft. Sumter in South Carolina, for instance, are evaluating the feasibility of solar panels and backup fuel cell generators. The officials say that would install the solar panels on the roof as to not disturb the historic feel of Ft. Sumter, proving that sustainability can be seamlessly integrated with classic architecture.

A major consideration for other government departments and independent contractors considering green-ing historic structures is the balance between the costs and benefits associated with new construction, the refurbishment to LEED standards of old structures, and the methods of traditional preservation and restoration. Nonetheless, historic preservationists are increasingly supporting the sustainable regeneration of original structures, an idea that makes buildings green but allows us to appreciate history.

Photo credit: Jeremy C Bradley