Weatherization Guide for Older & Historic Buildings
Not since the days of the oil crisis in the 1970's have Americans been so focused on energy consumption, especially weatherization. Just as the cost of heating and cooling has risen, so has the awareness of just how much energy seeps out of an average home every day. Central to this discussion is the role of older and historic buildings – and making them more energy efficient without jeopardizing their unique character. While experience has clearly shown this is possible, in practice, weatherization approaches vary greatly and can result in the unnecessary removal and loss of historic features – most often original windows.
True, there is a lot of information – not all accurate – out there about weatherization. Policies and practices may actually favor and promote replacement products over repair and reuse, despite actual performance. Windows, especially, are often the prime target for weatherization, even though they are not the main cause for energy loss.
Older and historic buildings are often inherently designed for energy conservation and respond to different regional environments. Overhanging roofs, porches, awnings, and shutters can maximize shade and provide insulation. Thick walls provide thermal mass and buffering. Large, operable windows provide natural light and promote air circulation. All in all, older buildings offer these "built-in" advantages.
It is far easier to save energy than one might think, as there are simple ways to reduce our carbon footprints. Older and historic buildings have an important role to play in this discussion. They have stood the test of time and can always be made more energy efficient. If you really want to be "green" and save energy, reusing existing materials and retrofitting older and historic buildings is a smarter, more long-term and sustainable choice that will save both money and resources.