Historic Preservation & the Environment
“The Greenest Building is the One that Already Exists”
Historic buildings, landscapes, and sites are an important link to our shared history and culture, as well as large public works of art, but their importance to our ecological survival is not emphasized enough.
With the United Nation’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) devastating report on the dangerous trajectory of our Climate Crisis, highlighted at this year’s annual COP26 conference on Climate Change, along with the IPCC’s equally catastrophic upcoming report on drastic Biodiversity loss, some which was disclosed at this year’s COP15 conference on global Biodiversity; the Important role that historic buildings can play in helping to slow down and mitigate these joint crises is often overlooked.
Historic structures are the ultimate resource in reducing and reusing our natural resources. Every standing historic building that is in utilization can keep fragile habitats from being built upon, thereby reducing Biodiversity loss. Existing buildings also keep natural resources from being extracted from our environment to be turned into building materials, along with not using the fossil fuels needed to create these products and the energy needed during the new construction process. Also, by keeping historic buildings standing, we greatly reduce the waste that fills up our landfills, much of which cannot be, or is not being, recycled.
None of these concepts are new, the seminal work on the linkage of saving our historic buildings and the connection to helping fight Climate Change was highlighted by Richard Moe, the former President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Richard Moe, almost 2 decades ago.
Please see the link below for one of Mr. Moe’s presentations on Historic Preservation, and its role in stemming Climate Change: