Green and Affordable Historic Housing

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by Patrice Frey 1 Comment

Hello from St. Paul! Friday’s conference line-up includes several panels on integrating green building practices and historic preservation. Our panel this morning on "Green Affordable Housing in Historic Buildings" featured three experts from the private and non-profit sector. The overall message: historic buildings can be excellent vehicles for developing green and affordable housing – though these projects are certainly not without their challenges.

The panelists discussed a number of green features that they incorporate into their buildings, such as solar panels, upgraded HVAC systems and low VOC paint. In many instances, high-tech green features can be incorporated sensitively into these projects (for example, high parapets on commercial buildings can serve as visual shield for solar panels.) But the session also included a frank discussion about the trade-offs that are sometimes needed in affordable and green rehabilitation projects – such as replacing historic windows with new windows because newer windows can be easier to operate and are maintenance-free. Lead-based paint on historic windows can also be costly to abate – especially on tight construction budgets.

See more details about all of our panelists below – and look for links to their power points soon.

  • Scott Hoekman, senior vice president and chief credit officer of Enterprise Community Investment, discussed Enterprise’s Green Communities program. Enterprise is a leading non-profit real estate investor that focuses on the development of affordable housing. Over the past three years, Enterprise has developed more than 9,000 green affordable units, including a number in historic buildings such as the New Holland development. The New Holland features geothermal heating, among other innovations.
  • Ben Logue, president of LaPorte Construction, is a private affordable housing developer out of Salt Lake City. In addition to incorporating high tech energy solutions such as solar panels into his affordable housing projects, Mr. Logue also discussed the importance of conserving historic materials (such as flooring and hardware) for aesthetic reasons and because of the high quality and durability of older materials.
  • Bryan Esenberg of Chicago’s Neighborhood Housing Services discussed NHS’ green rehabilitations of greystones in Lawndale neighborhood. The redevelopment of existing housing is central to NHS' vision of sustainable community development – and they have committed to green rehabilitations of all of their future projects.
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


    One Response

    1. Madeline Douglass

      October 6, 2007

      On Tuesday 10/2 Richard Moe answered questions about historic
      preservation issues and spoke about the conference here.

      We’re proud that he’s a native Minnesotan!

      One of the very important issues he addressed was the misconception
      that it’s just “too expensive” to renovate or restore
      historic buildings using green design principles.

      This is not true and we’d certainly like to learn more about it here in drafty window and old furnace land.

      One principle of the green building philosophy is to recycle and reuse
      materials. A local organization that is doing important work by
      saving and reselling materials from historic and new buildings
      being remodelled or awaiting demolition is The Green Institute’s Reuse Center.

      Check out their Onsite Sales listings.