By Richard Moe | From Preservation | March/April 2010
This issue of Preservation spotlights ways in which preservationists are helping America go green. I'm proud to say that the National Trust for Historic Preservation is playing a crucial role in this effort.
Some of the most important work in our sustainability program takes place in the advocacy arena. We aim to show policymakers how reuse, reinvestment, and retrofit can contribute to a sustainable future, and then to help them build the legislative framework that will make that future a reality. Recently, we've been supporting legislation to provide incentives for owners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. We've made considerable progress on this front, but much remains to be done. We're convinced, for example, that incentives should be based on actual performance and informed by an energy audit, since product-based incentives could lead owners to employ products and techniques harmful to older and historic buildings. We're working on securing these changes now and hope to have made substantial progress by the time you read this.
Last spring, we established our Preservation Green Lab in Seattle. In the year since it opened, the Green Lab has made good progress in generating state and local policies that integrate preservation and green building practices. Working in partnership with several communities, the lab is helping to create cutting-edge policy that recognizes the environmental and economic value of existing buildings and encourages their retrofit to the highest standards of environmental performance.
We're also pushing an ambitious research agenda, focusing particularly on life-cycle assessment, which offers the best way to evaluate the environmental impacts of construction and reuse. We're confident that our research will be enormously helpful to a wide range of users, from architects and builders to property owners.
We all have a role to play in addressing climate change, and small steps do make a difference. With this in mind, we've launched a major educational outreach aimed at the general public: This is our third "green" issue of Preservation; we continue to spotlight sustainability at many conferences and seminars; and we're enhancing our website, PreservationNation.org, to make it the premier source of information on weatherization for owners of historic buildings.
The National Trust's sustainability efforts embrace practically every aspect of our work, and that's exactly as it should be. Extending the life of older and historic buildings by making them more energy efficient is central to what sustainability is all about—and it also lies at the very heart of our mission to protect America's heritage.
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