Deal or No Deal? Just Don't Call it Recycling!

Posted on: February 6th, 2009 by Barbara Campagna
Two  million cheer the inauguration on the Jumbotron in front of the Museum of Natural History. Saving buildings like the Capitol and the Smithsonian museums helps combat climate change.

Two million cheer the inauguration on the Jumbotron in front of the Museum of Natural History. Saving buildings like the Capitol and the Smithsonian museums helps combat climate change.

My colleagues and I were discussing today how it could be possible for the Treasury Department to “overpay” by $76 billion for the TARP assets. One colleague likened it to “Deal or No Deal” -– here’s a suitcase with stuff in it, we don’t know how much, so let’s give the guy holding the suitcase a beautiful lady and $76 billion just to be sure! I started making a list of what kind of cultural assets, historic preservation and renewable energy projects could be funded with $76 billion (excluding any federal assets such as those managed by the Park Service, GSA and the BLM). It took a while and I could imagine a lot and even then I had about $25 billion left over. I know my Public Policy colleagues have been hard at work with other nonprofits and agencies lobbying for preservation and cultural assets in the stimulation package. Instead, I’d like to suggest to the administration that they just give the National Trust for Historic Preservation $75 billion, so rather than worrying about losing it again, we could make great, immediate use of the type of funding we rarely see in our little corner of the world, let alone manage to have, to protect our heritage and impact climate change at the same time. Because of course, as my good friend Carl Elefante, FAIA, coined, “the greenest building is the one that’s already been built.” If we even had $15 billion to conduct research, develop better glazing products, organic insulations and renewable energies and help people outright green their houses and residences, we’d probably make a bigger impact on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions than most of the suggestions out there combined.

Finding Out What All the Other Green Bloggers Are Saying

I started writing this blog to share some great recent postings that friends and people I admire have written on the topic, but got waylaid by the amazing article in the Times this morning. Although, everyone’s pretty much talking about the same thing these days – blogging or reporting on their thoughts for the stimulus packages and their hopes for the new administration. My “green” blogroll is filled with a variety of blogs – some are so scientific I’m lucky if I can understand the title (and yes, scientists do blog too!), some are just great reporting, some are inspiring or challenging. My blog last week described a recent posting by one of my favorite bloggers, Kaid Benfield. But there are a bunch of others also worth keeping your eye on – so if you’d like to spend a little time every day or so keeping up with the bloggers and just haven’t had the time to troll the internet, here are some suggestions:

Cheering for Renewable Energy at the Inauguration.

Cheering for Renewable Energy at the Inauguration.

The Green Workplace Blog, edited by Leigh Stringer with postings by a variety of bloggers, keeps me amused, mostly because they write in a similar chatty way as I do and often say things I’m thinking. I seem to really enjoy "Green A" -- a/k/a Anica Landreneau's -- postings. Her blog from January 21st discusses her admiration for the President’s Inaugural speech – the first one ever to talk about renewable energy and climate change. This is a fine introduction to later blogs discussing the various intricacies of the proposed stimulus packages.

Treehugger is a website sponsored by the Discovery Channel which mixes edgy blogging with more popular blogging and features writing by a whole host of environmentalists. A good friend and former colleague of mine, Elaine Gallagher Adams, who now works for the Rocky Mountain Institute, wrote a terrific piece on the need for the stimulus money to focus more on retrofitting our existing buildings than just improving new technologies: “Economic Stimulus! Sometimes What We’re Looking For is Right Under Our Nose.” Elaine is a preservation architect after my own heart and her article could have been written by me or Patrice (Patrice Frey is the director of sustainability research at the National Trust and my comrade-in-arms). Bravo Elaine!

Dot Earth is the venerable New York Times’ green blog written by Andrew Revkin. Revkin’s posts are most interesting to me for the resources he usually mentions or provides links to. His blog from February 4th reviewed why Secretary of State Clinton’s first international visit would include China to discuss climate change. He lists some great new reports that have just come out from the Brookings Institution and the Pew Charitable Trust.

And then there’s Vince Michael’s blog “Time Tells." Vince is the chair of the preservation program at the Art Institute in Chicago, sits on several of my site boards and the National Trust board and is one of my Facebook buddies. He wrote a blog on February 4th entitled “Deconstruction” which I loved – comparing the reuse of his home brewed beer bottle to the reuse of existing and historic buildings, just don’t call it recycling!

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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at