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Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

The idea of sustainability is an inherent principle of historic preservation. From the beginning, historic preservation has been about retaining well-designed, well-constructed resources for the present and the future. Increasingly, historic buildings are being targeted for modern weatherization improvements that are often costly and unnecessary. Research has shown that historic buildings can be just as energy efficient as new buildings without destroying their historic character.

Please see the links below for information provided by the National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Association of Preservation Technology, and the National Institute of Building Sciences, among others.


How to Weather-proof Your Historic Home (Without Compromising its Character),
Kansas Preservation (PDF), Nov/Dec 2005.

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines on Sustainability for Historic Buildings. (PDF) National Park Service Technical Preservation Services (2011).

The Effects of Energy Efficiency Treatments on Historic Windows Published January 2011 (PDF) by Larry Kinney and Amy Ellsworth explores treatment options for historic windows using a historic house in Colorado as the laboratory.

Energy Efficient Window Retrofits in Historic Facilities (PDF) by Kent Hendricks, Colorado State University

Sustainability & Historic Preservation: Lessons Learned (PPT-PDF), National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services

"Windows: Energy Efficiency Facts & Myths" (PDF) by Shannon Peterson Wasielewski
A comprehensive, easy to understand explanation of the thermal properties of windows and how buildings lose energy.

The Alliance Review: News from the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions
September-October 2010.
(PDF) Weatherization and energy efficiency for historic homes.

"That Old Building May Be the Greenest on the Block"
AIArchitect, February 8, 2008.

Whole Building Design Guide – Sustainable Historic Preservation
Provides extensive information and links on a wide range of preservation, sustainability, and building-related guidance, criteria, and technology.

"What Replacement Windows Can't Replace: The Real Cost of Removing Historic Windows"(PDF)
Walter Sedovic & Jill H. Gotthelf, APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology, Volume 36, April 2005.

National Park Service, Preservation Brief 3 - Conserving Energy in Historic Buildings

Testing the Energy Performance of Wood Windows in Cold Climates, Executive Summary (PDF). A Report to The State of Vermont Division for Historic Preservation Agency of Commerce and Community Development
James, Brad & Andrew Shapiro, Steve Flanders, Dr. David Hemenway: August 30, 1996.