Climate Change

National Trust greens American attitudes and practices

Energy awareness is changing our vocabulary, altering government policies, and informing the programs of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Just a few of the exciting initiatives under way here include:

Working closely with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop a more preservation-friendly version of the LEED Green Building Rating System.

Collaborating with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to evaluate the thermal performance of historic windows compared with new "high-performance" windows. (Two National Trust historic sites are participating: Villa Finale in San Antonio and Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, N.Y.)

Launching the Preservation Green Lab, based in Seattle. The lab will work with officials in Seattle, San Francisco, and Dubuque, Iowa, to meet local sustainability goals by integrating preservation principles into building and energy codes, zoning ordinances, and land-use plans. The lab will also undertake bricks-and-mortar projects to be used as case studies for retrofitting different kinds of historic buildings with green technology—from houses to schools and office buildings.

Incorporating more green practices into the day-to-day operations of all National Trust historic sites. Lyndhurst recently formed a green team to find ways to adopt sustainable practices on a limited budget, and discovered that switching to Green Seal certified cleaning products was not only an easy way to become more environmentally friendly but also saved money.

Growing organic produce at Filoli in Woodside, Calif. Gardeners at the historic site have revived its heirloom orchard and are now providing organic food to staff and even a few restaurants. The site is also looking to expand distribution in the local community.

Updating the best-practices manual that the National Trust uses to care for its sites. The manual now includes a section on green housekeeping and sustainable practices, which should be useful for historic properties nationwide. Additionally, Jim Vaughan, vice president for stewardship of historic sites, says that National Trust sites are taking a more holistic approach to construction projects, with an eye toward the possibility of seeking LEED certification.

"It's not enough to talk about how historic preservation can inform green building," National Trust President Richard Moe told the Greenbuild conference in Boston in November. "We must roll up our sleeves" and "promote a culture of reuse."

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