Richard Moe in the New York Times: "virtually any older or historic house can become more energy-efficient"

Posted on: April 6th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern 3 Comments

Our own Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has an op-ed in today's New York Times. It bears an unfortunate title, but that doesn't lessen its strong message about greening historic homes:

Experience has shown that virtually any older or historic house can become more energy-efficient without losing its character. Restoring the original features of older houses — like porches, awnings and shutters — can maximize shade and insulation. Older wooden windows perform very well when properly weatherized — this includes caulking, insulation and weather stripping — and assisted by the addition of a good storm window. Weatherizing leaky windows in most cases is much cheaper than installing replacements.

He goes on to point out that this retrofitting work has an additional benefit:

The labor-intensive process of rehabilitating older buildings would also create jobs, and this labor can’t be shipped overseas. The wages would stay in the community, supporting local businesses and significantly increasing household incomes — just the kind of boost the American economy needs right now.

The full article is available here. It's well worth reading.

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Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.


3 Responses

  1. CDCieri

    April 6, 2009

    I love reading this. It is MUCH harder to put into practice. Here we are, a family of four, with utility costs that outstrip our mortgage. We got an energy audit, in fact, my husband took the training. (Jobs in that field NOT so easy to come by — so discouraging)
    Here’s the problem … there is hugely contradictory information out there on insulating old homes and no real reliable guide. It would be great if the NTHP could be a source for this.

  2. Jodi Summers

    April 7, 2009


    “People love to live in old buildings,” observes Susan Powers, president of the development company Urban Ventures. “Community members generally love to see old buildings restored.”

    Here’s a green building snafu – many current building codes aren’t formulated to accommodate the reuse of salvaged materials. As a matter of public policy, many progressive cities encourage the recycling of building materials, yet as a matter of administrative practice they make their use either economically impractical or illegal…

    Details @

  3. Sarah

    April 7, 2009

    It’s true– a guide needs to be written. This all sounds great in blogs and editorials, but when rubber hits the road, much of it is very difficult and expensive. The National Park Service, for example, has a guide about energy efficiency and historic houses, but it is inaccurate and hasn’t been updated in some-20 years.