Buffalo's renovation of 48 older schools created local jobs and incorporated 21st century technology into once-vacant historic buildings like the City Honors School.
Written by Renee Kuhlman
Everyone once in a while, I have to visit a historic building and recharge. Sound familiar? There’s just something about being enveloped in a place that’s seen some history that’s good for my soul.
Last Friday, I got to see several renovated schools in Buffalo, New York courtesy of Conrad Wesolek from LPCiminelli Construction Corp. Did I mention that $1.2 billion (yes, billion) has been invested in renovating old and historic schools in Buffalo?
What fascinated me was the fact that the folks involved couldn’t believe that this wasn’t the norm around the country. They saw these renovations as being good for the school district’s bottom-line.
- We know that renovation creates more jobs than new construction because it’s more labor intensive.
- We know that renovation puts more money into the local economy because labor and materials are often produced and acquired locally.
- We know that public investment in infrastructure increases private investment in surrounding properties.
So like the folks in Buffalo, I struggle to understand why it’s not the norm around the country to reinvest in public school infrastructure.
That’s why we’ve been putting on an educational webinar series with partners such as the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI), the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
If you missed the webinar series, don’t worry – you can still download them and enjoy them at your leisure.
Additionally, if you have questions about how you can make renovation of older schools a reality in your town, please join our upcoming live chat on November 1 at 2:00 p.m. EST. The live chat will provide you the opportunity to pose questions to experts in many fields, including a representative from the EPA who can answer questions about the first-ever federal school siting guidelines.
Like Buffalo, we at the National Trust believe that renovating older schools shows students, their parents, and other local citizens how historic buildings can be transformed into inspirational, 21st century classrooms. Good for the pocketbook? Yes. But also good for the soul.
Renee Kuhlman directs the Helping Johnny Walk to School project – to help states encourage school siting practices and policy that sustain our communities.