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The Vistors Center at President Lincoln's Cottage.

The Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center at President Lincoln’s Cottage

It’s Official! The Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center (VEC) at President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington DC became the first National Trust Historic Site last week to receive LEED certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), is a third party rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to measure the impact of building construction and building operations on the environment. The Visitor Education Center received all 44 credits the project applied for under NC 2.2 (New Construction and Major Renovations). A minimum of 39 points are required for LEED Gold. The project was completed prior to USGBC releasing LEED 2009, which includes changes to the rating system that will benefit existing and historic buildings even more. (See my article in the AIA Newsletter for more detail.)

The VEC is the former Administration Building at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Northwest D.C. An Italianate Renaissance Revival style building that was constructed in 1905 as part of the Soldiers’ Home complex, it has been adapted for use as the Visitor Education Center (VEC) for President Lincoln’s Cottage, and incorporates administration space for the Trust. The National Trust is very grateful to our partner United Technologies Incorporated who contributed $1 million and technical expertise to the project.

For a more detailed description of the features of the rehabilitation project that makes the project “greener” than normal and a discussion of the project’s place in the National Trust’s Sustainability Program, please go to the Historic Sites Blog and Erin Carlson Mast’s blog on the President Lincoln’s Cottage webpage.

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.

Barbara Campagna

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 bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Life Cycle Assessment: Making It Understandable, Usable & Real

Posted on: March 3rd, 2009 by Barbara Campagna

 

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LCA will help us show how demolishing a historic hotel - like this one in Miami Beach - and replacing it with a new one will negatively impact the environment much more than just renovating it.

I recently had the honor of being invited to the Life Cycle Inventory Database Stakeholders Meeting at the Department of Energy. This group has been meeting for the past five years to develop the Life Cycle Inventory Database – the American version of some very effective tools that have been in place in Europe for many years now. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is managing this database and project.

Now, I will admit, I smugly admire my own intelligence at times, but this was a place where I was so intellectually out of my league, I had to leave the room a few times just to keep from hyperventilating! It’s good to be humbled sometimes.

Important Note: The rest of this post is highly technical. If you can’t get through it, feel free to just jump to the bottom paragraph. It’s okay; I won’t be offended!

What is life cycle assessment?

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a scientific methodology to calculate the environmental performance of a product, material or building over its full life cycle. LCA evaluates all stages of a product’s life from the perspective that they are interdependent, meaning that one operation leads to the next. LCA enables the estimation of the cumulative environmental impacts resulting from all stages in the product life cycle, often including impacts not considered in more traditional analyses (e.g., raw material extraction, material transportation, ultimate product disposal, etc.). By including the impacts throughout the product life cycle, LCA provides a comprehensive view of the environmental aspects of the product or process, as well as a more accurate picture of the true environmental trade-offs in product and process selection. (This definition is from an article entitled “Life Cycle Assessment: Principles & Practice” by Scientific Applications Internationals Corporation of Reston, Virginia.)

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If LCA of this terra cotta walrus on the Arctic Building in Seattle seems complicated, imagine how complicated whole-building LCA is.

For example, look at this terra cotta walrus from a famous Seattle building. Performing LCA just of this walrus would measure the energy and its impacts on the environment, including what it took to dig the clay from the ground that was used to make the terra cotta; the impacts of the manufacturing of the terra cotta; the packaging and transportation of the walrus to the building site; the energy and impacts it then took to affix it to the building; and the amount of energy and materials used over its life to maintain and restore it.

If that sounds really complicated just to measure this one walrus, imagine how complex it is to determine this information for an entire building. It boggles the mind.

... Read More →

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.

Barbara Campagna

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 bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Deal or No Deal? Just Don't Call it Recycling!

Posted on: February 6th, 2009 by Barbara Campagna

 

Two  million cheer the inauguration on the Jumbotron in front of the Museum of Natural History. Saving buildings like the Capitol and the Smithsonian museums helps combat climate change.

Two million cheer the inauguration on the Jumbotron in front of the Museum of Natural History. Saving buildings like the Capitol and the Smithsonian museums helps combat climate change.

My colleagues and I were discussing today how it could be possible for the Treasury Department to “overpay” by $76 billion for the TARP assets. One colleague likened it to “Deal or No Deal” -– here’s a suitcase with stuff in it, we don’t know how much, so let’s give the guy holding the suitcase a beautiful lady and $76 billion just to be sure! I started making a list of what kind of cultural assets, historic preservation and renewable energy projects could be funded with $76 billion (excluding any federal assets such as those managed by the Park Service, GSA and the BLM). It took a while and I could imagine a lot and even then I had about $25 billion left over. I know my Public Policy colleagues have been hard at work with other nonprofits and agencies lobbying for preservation and cultural assets in the stimulation package. Instead, I’d like to suggest to the administration that they just give the National Trust for Historic Preservation $75 billion, so rather than worrying about losing it again, we could make great, immediate use of the type of funding we rarely see in our little corner of the world, let alone manage to have, to protect our heritage and impact climate change at the same time. Because of course, as my good friend Carl Elefante, FAIA, coined, “the greenest building is the one that’s already been built.” If we even had $15 billion to conduct research, develop better glazing products, organic insulations and renewable energies and help people outright green their houses and residences, we’d probably make a bigger impact on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions than most of the suggestions out there combined.

Finding Out What All the Other Green Bloggers Are Saying

I started writing this blog to share some great recent postings that friends and people I admire have written on the topic, but got waylaid by the amazing article in the Times this morning. Although, everyone’s pretty much talking about the same thing these days – blogging or reporting on their thoughts for the stimulus packages and their hopes for the new administration. My “green” blogroll is filled with a variety of blogs – some are so scientific I’m lucky if I can understand the title (and yes, scientists do blog too!), some are just great reporting, some are inspiring or challenging. My blog last week described a recent posting by one of my favorite bloggers, Kaid Benfield. But there are a bunch of others also worth keeping your eye on – so if you’d like to spend a little time every day or so keeping up with the bloggers and just haven’t had the time to troll the internet, here are some suggestions:

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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.

Barbara Campagna

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 bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Green Transformations (or: Back in the Blogging Saddle)

Posted on: January 30th, 2009 by Barbara Campagna

 

The Washington Monument on inauguration day.

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

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.

Barbara Campagna

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 bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

 

A typical "walkable street" in the Back Bay of Boston.

LEED Neighborhood Development (ND) is in some respects as different from LEED 2009 as it is similar. It has a very different construct (4 sections instead of 6), was developed by a working group of three organizations – USGBC, Natural Resources Defense Council (representing the Smart Growth community) and Congress for New Urbanism – and focuses on infrastructure and the public realm, with buildings as just one component. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been advising the staff at USGBC for the past 6 months on the final edits to LEED ND and we’re very pleased to announce and discuss the changes that are out for public comment right now. And to encourage you to read the new system and send in your comments.

At the Greenbuild conference, Sophie Lambert, the Director of LEED ND, coordinated and presented a really clear and concise session on the changes. So I want to give a preservation shout-out to Sophie (with full disclosure, Sophie is married to one of my former interns, Chris Lambert). Sophie is a graduate of the Preservation program at Columbia University, so is one of our own. Sophie also presented at our conference this year in Tulsa. “The development of LEED for Neighborhood Development speaks to the breadth of what
‘green building’ means,” says Sophie on the USGBC website. “What was once a rating system solely designed for commercial construction, LEED is now evolving beyond single buildings to address development at the neighborhood scale.” Public comment for LEED for Neighborhood Development opened on November 17 and will run until January 5, 2009. To view the LEED for Neighborhood Development draft and submit comments online, please visit the USGBC website. Anyone can comment during the public comment stage; you only need to be a member of USGBC for the final vote. Following the close of the 1st public comment period, the comments will be reviewed and then a second draft will be put out for public comment (just like LEED 2009). It is presumed that the final version of LEED ND will go out for member vote in the spring of 2009 so that it will be ready for market launch in the summer of 2009.... Read More →

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.

Barbara Campagna

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 bcampagna@bcampagna.com.