National Park Service Releases New Sustainability and Historic Preservation Guidelines

Posted on: May 6th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Written by Rachel Bowdon

Interested in learning more about how to seamlessly integrate preservation and green building practices?  The National Park Service recently released The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (PDF). Developed by the National Park Service's Technical Preservation Services division, these are the first official federal guidelines for how to make changes to improve energy efficiency and preserve the character of historic buildings.

Operable shutters bring in natural light when open and keep interiors cool when closed. (Photo: David Garber)

Intended to be a user-friendly guide for owners of historic buildings who are planning rehabilitation work, Guidelines on Sustainability is illustrated with examples of “recommended” treatments and “not recommended” treatments. The guide stresses the inherent sustainability of historic buildings and covers a wide range of topics including: planning, maintenance, windows, weatherization and insulation, HVAC and air circulation, solar technology, wind power, green roofs and cool roofs, site features and water efficiency, and daylighting.

The guide is not intended to give case-specific advice. For example, the guide does not instruct owners on how to treat specific historic features or how to install particular sustainable technologies. Owners or developers may still need to seek assistance from qualified historic preservation professionals in the early stages of project planning when determining how to balance historic integrity and sustainability.

The guidelines are available online at

Check out PreservationNation blog later this month for a Q & A on the creation and use of these guidelines with the team from the National Park Service that published it.

Rachel Bowdon is the program assistant for the Sustainability Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.