Tag: historic building (2)

Debunking Preservation Myths

Historic properties enrich our cities and capture our history. Don’t let myths about extra costs and over-regulation outweigh the benefits of undertaking your historic project! Historic buildings can’t be sustainable. FALSE. Several well-known historic buildings have been renovated to meet LEED standards. The U.S. Green Building Council recognizes historic buildings “represent significant embodied energy and cultural value”. LEED offers credits for the preservation or adaptive reuse of historic materials and features. New technologies and products make it possible to integrate sustainable solutions that improve the performance of a historic property. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation include special Guidelines on Sustainability. Work with a historic architect to determine if any of the following modifications could improve building performance without permanently damaging historic materials: Windows | Restore windows by replacing putty or weather-stripping to create an air-tight window opening. Interior Storm Window | Installing interior storm windows can nearly double the window’s insulating value. A compression fit assembly can be installed without any additional hardware or holes in the historic frame. Insulation | Historic buildings may not have any insulation. Blown-In insulation products can be installed into walls through small holes or attic access to improve energy performance. HVAC | After testing the existing system for efficiency, a new HVAC system can be installed as necessary within the replacement cycle. High velocity air ducts have a slim profile and can be retrofit into existing walls to avoid visible ductwork or additional soffits. Restoration | Inherently sustainable features, like skylights and operable windows, naturally improve occupant comfort since they predate electricity. A designated historic building can’t be altered for ADA accessibility. FALSE. With the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, access to properties open to the public is a civil right. This doesn’t mean every property is required to install an […]

The Cost of Historic Preservation

Historic building projects get a bad reputation for costing more to repair than constructing a new building. (Why else would you need government grants and public funding to make these projects happen?) While the bill to restore those historic wood windows may be higher than new vinyl windows, the cost of losing a piece of the building’s history is greater still. Financial assistance for historic projects recognizes that you can’t put a price tag on the intangible resources inherent in historic buildings. Think of a building’s history as a natural resource. Historic buildings record a story of the people who designed, built, used, and altered them over the years. The cracks and quirks define the building’s character and make it as unique as a human face. Historic buildings create a sense of place because they are the faces of our streets, neighborhoods, and cities. The story and character of a historic building can be leveraged for economic development, heritage tourism, and downtown revitalization. Preserving a historic downtown or a neighborhood residence keeps memories alive and enriches the places we choose to live or visit. When I visit a revitalized downtown I see an identity as strong as any branding campaign. People continue to add to this story by continuing to inhabit historic buildings. Many of the stores and restaurants I visit on a weekly basis are a repeat of another business in the next suburb over. Historic buildings are a relief from the sameness of franchises and corporations. Historic districts are a catalyst for economic development as they positively impact jobs, property values, heritage tourism and downtown revitalization. The upkeep and repairs may cost more than new construction, but a greater cost is paid when these buildings fall into disrepair or are demolished. History, once lost, cannot be rebuilt as […]