Sunday, June 8, 2008

Historic Preservation: recycling on a grander scale...

I have been a National Trust member ever since I went to Charleston over ten years ago and learned of an incredible group of women who stood in front of a historic building to save it from the wrecking ball. Both the National Society of Colonial Dames and its sister organization, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were some of the first preservationists in America who were instrumental in saving what is today beautiful historic downtown Charleston.

So I was thrilled to read Preservation's Green Issue earlier this year and now the National Trust for Historic Preservation has formally launched an exciting Sustainability Initiative.

I took some time this afternoon to read about what they are doing and I'd like to share with you. Especially for those FOBS (friends of Betty) who own an old home and or beautifully renovate them for a living (essentially recycle them) like Charlottesville's own Frank Bergland (who appeared in the local green scene in January).

What you should know (I've paraphrased a letter from Richard Moe, President):

The Pew Center on Climate Change found that 43% of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from the operation of buildings. So while green building is an important part of the solution, conservation is equally important. We have to use what we already have in better, wiser ways.

"About 80 billion BTUs of energy are embodied in a typical 50,000 square ft commercial building. Tearing down that building would negate all the benefit of recycling more than 60 million aluminum cans. Demolishing the building would create 4,000 tons of waste" (26 railroad cars worth)

Also, it's a myth that older buildings are energy "hogs". The US General Services Administration found that historic buildings had 27% less utility costs than their modern counterparts.

So this initiative will 1) work on a policy level to help promote the preservation/recycling of old buildings 2) research to inform best practices for green rehab of older buildings 3) launch a national green building education campaign on green building

Their Position

"Historic preservation can – and should – be an important component of any effort to promote sustainable development. The conservation and improvement of our existing built resources, including re-use of historic and older buildings, greening the existing building stock, and reinvestment in older and historic communities, is crucial to combating climate change."

How can you help?

* Become a member at or call 1.800.315.6847
* Specifically donate to the sustainability initiative
* Take their GREEN PLEDGE. They will send you an impressive checklist d.i.y home audit with lots Betty-tips like: check local shops for salvage, when appliances reach the end of the useful life, replace them with Energy Star appliances, purchase antiques or refurbished furniture, compost, shift your thermostat (78 degrees in summer, 68 degrees in winter),
*Share this information with others


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