Author Archive

Sun, Sand, Sustainability…And Sprawl Too!

Posted on: November 10th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

I just returned from 10 days of conferences – a week in San Juan for the APT Conference followed by 3 days at the Greenbuild Conference in Chicago. Both conferences energized me and made me so proud to be playing a professional role in the climate change discussion.

APT (the Association for Preservation Technology) is one of the National Trust’s primary partners in the Sustainable Preservation Coalition – a coalition of national organizations responsible for developing policies and best practices who have joined together to create national policy on the intersection of historic preservation and sustainable practices. This APT Conference was also my final conference as President of the organization, and I was thrilled to be the president at the most successful and highly attended conference ever in the organization’s 39 years. This was also our first off-shore conference which proved that “curb appeal” of conferences is as important if not more important than intellectual content!! We had 729 attendees, far more than the 200 we had originally planned as the breakeven number.

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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.

Rescuing an Icon, Part Two

Posted on: November 7th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

A story of how a typical business trip turned into a tale of disaster management of national importance…

(Editor’s Note: Originally written in August for her personal blog, Barbara Campagna has agreed to share the story of her experience at the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL, as the floodwaters from the Fox River approached.)

August 24th, 2007

Whitney and I had plans to drive out to Chicago for a 10:30 am meeting at the Landmarks Illinois office in the Monadnock Building with David Bahlman and Al Novickis, the architect ready to start work on the SAT grant for the house. I went down to a scrumptious breakfast to be told that Whitney had called at 7:30 am to say that the house had been completely surrounded by 4 feet of water during the night and I should get out there as soon as possible. I emailed my office and drove there to find that the Farnsworth House was peering above the water just barely, its 5 foot high stilts completely submerged and the water lapping at its front door. David Bahlman, President of Landmarks Illinois our co-steward partner at the house, drove down from Chicago, and he, Whitney and her boyfriend and I, tried to figure out how to get to the house to see if water had gotten in and/or to try to elevate the furniture and the rare Primavera wood panels.

We are fortunate that Whitney, the new site director who has only been in her job for 4 months, has lived in the community for 15 years and knows everyone. The water was too high and too dangerous to consider wading through. So we knew we needed to find a flat-bottomed boat. She called everyone she could think of including the Fire Department and no one had a boat. We feared we would be able to do nothing but watch as the house became submerged and possibly damaged as extensively as it had in 1996 when water rose 5' into the house.

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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.

Rescuing an Icon, Part One

Posted on: November 1st, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

A story of how a typical business trip turned into a tale of disaster management of national importance...

(Editor's Note: Originally written in August for her personal blog, Barbara Campagna has agreed to share the story of her experience at the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL, as the floodwaters from the Fox River approached.)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

The Farnsworth House, Plano, ILMy day began like many others since I joined the National Trust - board a plane for another city, actually leave and arrive on time (not the norm), rent a car and soon find myself driving out of a city and across the plains and sprawl of middle America. This time briefly passing through Chicago en route to Plano, Illinois, the location of one of the world's most famous and influential modernist icons - Mies van der Rohe's vacation home for Edith Farnsworth. I arrived on time at 1pm for a day of project review with the new Site Director, Whitney French.

It was sunny and humid, not unlike my home in Washington, DC. A week of massive rains in the Midwest had left the Fox River, next to which the Farnsworth House lies, full and rising. Thirteen inches of rain left spots of minor flooding on the 7 acres adjacent to the house, mostly evident along the quarter mile trail from the Visitor Center to the House. These patches caused the tour groups to detour to the house via a ride along Fox River Drive to the rear garage entrance - not the best scenario because the preferred trail brings the visitor up and around the house, giving you that "ah ha" moment when you come around a copse of trees and suddenly see the white steel and glass cube that changed the way architecture is made. But a rear entrance is preferable to no entrance - people literally come from around the world to pay homage to one of the 20th century's grandest yet simplest architectural gestures.

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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.

Another Vinyl Tirade

Posted on: October 23rd, 2007 by Barbara Campagna 2 Comments

 

I have been mulling over Patrice’s vinyl sadness since last week which probably explains the violence with which I responded to a Building & Grounds Manager from one of our 29 historic sites today when he called to ask if I would approve “vinyl replacement” windows in one of our rental houses (I am the Director of Architecture for the National Trust’s 29 historic sites). “No vinyl” I said. “But vinyl lasts longer and doesn’t need any maintenance,” he responded. Why does this misperception continue in the general public and bleed over into those of us who should know better? As Mike Jackson (Chief Architect of the Illinois SHPO’s office) says, “No Maintenance required” really means “can’t be repaired” - so they end up in the landfill much sooner than say a wood window which can be repaired and repaired and repaired, or recycled. Vinyl can’t be repaired, and it can’t be recycled. So, maybe you don’t need to repaint it every 10 years, but within 20 years you will need to buy new windows yet again, and the heavy imprint on the environment starts all over.

To quote my colleague Patrice’s recent "White Paper on Sustainability": There is a common perception that windows are a major source of heat loss and gain. Yet retaining historic windows is often more environmentally friendly than replacement with new thermally resistant windows. Government data suggests that windows are responsible for only 10% of air infiltration in the average home. Furthermore, a 1996 study finds that the performance of updated historic windows is in fact comparable to new windows. Window retention also preserves embodied energy, and reduces demand for environmentally costly new windows, typically constructed of vinyl or aluminum… There is the widespread perception that air leakage through windows is responsible for the majority of heat gain or loss in historic buildings. Yet information from the U.S. Department of Energy indicates that windows are responsible for only 10% of air escape in the average American home. Floors, ceiling and walls are responsible for 31% of heat loss and gain, while ducts and fireplaces are each responsible for about 15% of heat loss and gain.

Now this assumption is only true for traditional windows, typically in buildings built before 1920. All the tables are turned when looking at buildings built after World War II, or even earlier International Style or mid-century modern buildings. Many of these windows and/or curtain wall systems were experimental, and most of the energy loss in these buildings is attributed to the curtain wall system.

So, what sage advice did I give our Building and Grounds Manager after I stopped hyperventilating? First, absolutely no vinyl. It doesn’t matter that this building is not the National Historic Landmark that the site is known for. It’s the vinyl in all the good sound background buildings that are contributing to the problems in our environment. Second, maybe the perceived energy loss is not from the windows (or the windows alone), so let’s get an energy audit first before we jump to conclusions. And third, get me options for repairing the windows or replacing with new wood. Yes, they will probably be more expensive than the vinyl, in the short term. But as stewards for the site we need to always be looking at the long term and the big picture. And so that means, NO VINYL!!

UPDATE, November 15th, 2007: The Building and Grounds Manager from the offending site called me yesterday to tell me he got prices for new wood windows that match the badly deteriorated ones, as well as prices for vinyl and clad windows. Guess what, the difference was pretty minimal, so he thanked me for the recommendation and now we'll be staying away from the vinyl!!

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.

Reducing Water Consumption in Historic Buildings

Posted on: October 16th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

  1. Plant Only Native Plants - Naturescaping
    Native plantings typically reduce maintenance costs over their lifetime by minimizing inputs of fertilizers, pesticides and water. Whenever you are planting flowers or vegetation in non-historic landscapes, utilize native plantings - this is called “naturescaping”. Contact your local nursery or go to www.plantnative.org. Have you heard about Xeriscaping? It’s a comprehensive approach to planting and gardening. See www.xeriscape.org.
  2. Evaluate Your Irrigation System
    Install low-volume micro-irrigation for gardens, trees and shrubs. Micro-irrigation includes drip (also known as trickle), micro spray jets, micro-sprinklers, or bubbler irrigation to irrigate slowly and minimize evaporation, runoff, and overspray. Ensure that there are no leaks in your irrigation equipment.
  3. Evaluate Your Fountains
    Do not install or use ornamental water features unless they recycle the water. Use signs to show the public that water is recycled. Do not operate during a drought.
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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.

Minimize Energy Use in Historic Buildings

Posted on: July 19th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

  1. Change All Your Light Bulbs to CFLs
    Replacing just one regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Imagine how much carbon dioxide changing ALL your light bulbs will save. CFLs are significantly more expensive than incandescent up front, but they can last up to 10x longer. Lowe's has one of the best in-store collections of cfls but you can also buy them online at websites such as http://www.energyfederation.org/consumer/default.php/cPath/25_44.
  2. Use Less Hot Water
    It takes a lot of energy (coal, electricity, etc) to heat water. Install low flow showerheads, and do your wash in cold or warm water instead of hot water. Think twice the next time you go to turn on the hot water.
  3. Adjust Thermostats
    In any building or space where you do not have carefully monitored temperatures for collections (etc), move the thermostat down just 2 degrees in the winter and up 2 degrees in the summer. You can save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year per building with this simple adjustment.
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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.