The Washington Monument on inauguration day.
Happy New Year everyone! My apologies to regular readers who have been asking me if I fell off the blogging radar. (Yes, I did!) I took an extended blog time-out (two months) –- I seemed to need a rest after my heavy blogging months of October and November reporting from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Greenbuild conferences. (And no snickering from my friends who will remark that my blog time-out also exactly coincides with when my new beau entered my life… so, yes, new love and blog rants seem to be mutually exclusive!).
So, what’s happened in the green preservation world since November? Need I ask such a silly rhetorical question? Our world has begun to transform significantly with the seminal change in administration last week (yes, I was on the Mall with the other two million and despite the cold, loved every minute of it). My colleague Rebecca Williams posted a really thoughtful blog on windows. My other colleagues have prepared an intriguing “green your house” survey. (Take it now!) Many of my colleagues are busy at work promoting various preservation and sustainability policies for the potential stimulus packages that our new President is suggesting. We have new cabinet members who have been working to better our environment for many years –- such as Dr. Steven Chu from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California who is our new Secretary of Energy. And many of my fellow bloggers in partner organizations have been busier than usual.
One of my favorite blogs is Kaid Benfield’s blog, “Switchboard: The Environment is Now Open. Plug in.” Kaid is the director of the Smart Growth Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of our Smart Growth partners and the smart growth part of the new LEED ND rating system. Kaid often looks at the big neighborhood picture of sustainable development and preservation, and always presents insightful viewpoints. I don’t always agree with him, but I always respect his thorough, enjoyable and flexible thinking and writing. I look forward to his postings, which are at the top of my blogroll and he writes more than just about anyone I know.
Last week his blog introduced a new feature sponsored by Urban Advantage. I encourage you to take a look at a new tool that will “help bring 'America the Beautiful' to the communities where we live, work, and shop” in an environmentally sensitive and preservation-worthy approach. As per Kaid:
“With generous assistance from our friends at Urban Advantage, NRDC has created a map of the United States featuring 70 locations across the country that are ripe for transformative change. Open the map, zoom in on a location and, without leaving our web site, you will be shown a Google Maps satellite view of the existing site, given some context about the metro area, and be treated to a brief slide show demonstrating how each can be converted, step-by-step, from sprawl, vacant property or disinvestment into a lively, beautiful neighborhood . . .”
So, I encourage you to start this new year, our greenest ever, by completing our “green your house” survey and then take a look at a metropolitan region you care about on NDRC’s new map. These tools may not stop greenhouse gas emissions but they will help frame the conversation
Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at email@example.com.