Sustainability Round-Up: The Greenest Building Edition

Posted on: February 10th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Brightleaf square in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo: reallyboring on Flickr)

A couple of weeks ago, the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab released a groundbreaking report, The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse. We’re pleased that the report was met with a good bit of media interest. Check it out:

The Green Dividend from Reusing Older BuildingsNRDC Switchboard

"The study shows that, for most building types, adaptive reuse of older buildings produces measureable - and sometimes impressive - green benefits. The findings with respect to energy impacts for most buildings and adaptations are overwhelmingly positive, and effectively remove one of the arguments that is sometimes made against preservation and adaptation."

Is It Time to Stop Constructing New Green Buildings?Fast Company

"Step into a new building in certain parts of U.S. and chances are pretty good that it has been built with the environment in mind (and that there is a plaque bragging about it). Maybe there’s natural lighting, a smart HVAC system, or incredible insulation. It doesn’t really matter. No matter what LEED-certified credentials the building can offer, retrofitting the teardown that came before would probably have made more environmental sense."

Why the Most Environmental Building is the Building We've Already BuiltThe Atlantic Cities

"We’re not coming out and saying ‘all buildings have to be reused,’ and ‘all new construction is bad,'" Frey says. "What we’re advocating for is a shift in thinking, where at a minimum, we’re considering the environmental impacts associated with demolishing places before we tear them down and build something new."

This Old House: Why Fixing Up Old Homes is Greener Than Building New OnesGrist

"To get your head around the broader implications here, consider this: The Brookings Institution projects that the U.S. will demolish roughly a quarter of its existing building stock - 82 billion square feet - between 2005 and 2030, and replace it with new structures. That’s a mind boggling amount of new construction, and even if the new stuff is significantly more energy efficient than the existing stock, it will take decades to recover the initial environmental costs of building it all."

Proof That the Greenest Building IS the One Already StandingTreehugger

"It is the wonderful thing about this report, that even when it doesn't have all of the answers, it anticipates the questions. As a writer about sustainable design it backs up the arguments I have been making for years, and as a preservation activist, it gives me and everyone in the movement the ammunition we need to demonstrate that old buildings are green."

Historic Buildings May Be Greener Than You ThinkNew York Times Green Blog

"In New York City, a conflict has long been perceived between historic preservation and urban sustainability goals. Older buildings are often seen as outdated energy hogs that can’t pull their weight, efficiency-wise, in a city that is expected to add a million new residents by 2030."

LEED From Behind: Why we should focus on greening existing buildingsTIME blog

"A study by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation shows building reuse almost always has fewer environmental impacts than new construction—which means we’d be smart to spend at least as much time renovating existing buildings as we do lionizing fancy new green construction."

Why Historic Buildings are Greener Than LEED-Certified New OnesGOOD

"Though the conclusion may seem counterintuitive in an age of ambitious LEED standards in many new buildings, consider that it uses more energy and creates more impact to construct an entirely new building than to fix up one of the same size for the same purpose."

For more, see articles featured in Environmental LeaderJetson GreenBuilding Design and ConstructionGreenbangArchDaily, BuildingGreen, American Public Media, and Daily Journal of Commerce (PDF).

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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.

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