Welcome to Beyond Green Building

Posted on: September 4th, 2007 by Patrice Frey 1 Comment

In the next few days, the National Trust will launch a featured section on its web site for the Sustainability Initiative. This Initiative was created in 2006 in recognition of the strong relationship between historic preservation and sustainable development. Sustainable development, commonly understood as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,”* is now widely acknowledged to include three elements, including environmental, economic and social sustainability. Preservation promotes all three goals.

Preservation is environmentally friendly. Re-using older buildings conserves the embodied energy in buildings, reduces demand for new materials, and reduces the amount of debris added to landfills. Historic neighborhoods are also typically more environmentally friendly, since they are often centrally located, “walkable” and densely populated as compared to most new development that contributes to sprawl and an associated increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

A number of studies have shown that preservation can be boon for local economic development. Yet importantly, preservation promotes economic development in a way that is respectful of our environmental resources, since preservation requires far fewer new materials. Finally, preservation protects our social and cultural resources in ensuring that historically significant buildings, structures and landscapes are maintained for future generations to enjoy.

About the blog…

I hope this blog will serve as a forum to exchange ideas and research on the topic of sustainability and preservation. As I continue my research efforts, I’ll post interesting discoveries along the way, and will use the blog to keep you updated on developments related to the Trust’s Sustainability Initiative, such as research reports, and sustainability related conferences and gatherings. In turn, I hope to get your feedback about our work.

I’ll be offering my “Morning Roundup” each day as well. This started as a daily collection of news items I sent around to colleagues on the subject of preservation and sustainability. It’s the rare story that directly addresses the link between preservation and sustainability, so I will mostly post stories I find of interest in thinking about the issue of sustainability, or major news items related to the environment.


* Gro Harlem Brundtland and World Commission on Environment and Development, Report ofthe World Commission on Environment and Development : "Our Common Future" (New York: United Nations, 1987).

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.


One Response

  1. Jennifer Goodman

    September 6, 2007

    Love this focus.

    Do have a greenish building issue to add to the Trust’s possible list of sustainability issues to explore if it’s not already there — aligning high performance school standards with preservation goals. Narrow issue I realize, but it picks up on the Trust’s schools policy and communications work and perhaps study results could offer good models for similar issues.