I get to see a lot of amazing places in my travels for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, but my recent stay at Pocantico -– the Rockefeller estate near Tarrytown, New York -- just might top them all. For a couple of days, I got to live like a Rockefeller. Let’s just say there were Picassos, Calders and many more sculptures scattered throughout the estate grounds (to say nothing of Nelson Rockefeller’s private art gallery), and my bathroom was only slightly smaller than my entire condominium in DC. As I write this blog post in said condo, I get a little sad looking at my futon and dining set from Target. Somehow they lack the elegance of Pocantico.
In early November, 30 preservationists, architects, green builders and energy experts gathered at Pocantico thanks to the generous support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which manages the estate. The group met to discuss the future of historic preservation in light of global warming, and specifically the implications of climate change for preservation policy.
We know that we are at important crossroads, in which our country will either rise to the challenge of addressing global warming, or face disastrous consequences. It is the belief of the Pocantico Symposium attendees that preservationists are uniquely able to help reduce the environmental impacts of our buildings. The tradition of stewardship that we’ve always embraced and the knowledge that we’ve gained from decades of experience can help to transform our built environment to one that is more sustainable.
After two days of intense discussions – some of which went on way too late into the night -- the group developed the core of what we are calling the Pocantico Proclamation on Sustainability and Preservation. This Proclamation outlines six preservation-based principles to sustain our built environment. We believe these principles can inform and strengthen efforts by preservationists and green-building advocates to reduce environmental impacts -– especially carbon emissions -– that are associated with the built environment.
On Thursday, November 20th, National Trust President Richard Moe will unveil these six principles at his speech to Greenbuild, the U.S. Green Building Council's annual conference. Following the introduction of these principles, a working group from the Pocantico Symposium will be refining a draft of the Pocantico Proclamation and will post the document for review and comment by all members of the preservation community.
So please check back Thursday to learn more about the Pocantico Proclamation –- my colleagues Barbara Campagna and Charlotte Bonini will be blogging from the conference, and we will post the full version of Richard Moe’s speech.
I’ll be looking forward to your comments. And perhaps looking for a new couch.
Photo: Kuykit, another Rockefeller family home -- and National Trust Historic Site -- in Tarrytown, NY.