Green

The Historic Tax Credit Takes Center Stage at the Timmy Awards

Posted on: December 19th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Erica Stewart, Public Affairs Manager

Old Naval Hospital, Washington, DC. Credit: MacRostie Historic Advisors
Old Naval Hospital, Washington, DC.

Each year the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association (NH&RA) celebrates exceptional preservation real estate projects with its J. Timothy Anderson Awards for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation (or, more casually, the Timmy Awards). Awards are based on overall design and quality; interpretation and respect of historic elements; innovative approach to construction and use of building materials; impact on the community; sustainability; and financial and market success of the project.

This year’s winners take the practice of historic rehabilitation and community revitalization to new heights, featuring exemplary work to restore the past while breathing new life into communities. From a 1920s apartment hotel in Kansas City renovated for affordable senior housing, to unique residential units in a mid-century Quonset hut in a small Virginia town, these projects are sure to motivate and inspire preservationists nationwide.... 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.

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.

Twitter Chat Recap/Reminder: From Windows to Fundraising

Posted on: November 29th, 2012 by Sarah Heffern

 

We've been talking a lot about windows here at the National Trust lately, thanks in large part to our colleagues in the Preservation Green Lab, who published a great report (Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement) in October that gave us a lot of detailed information about the energy efficiency of historic windows.

The report's authors joined us for our monthly Twitter chat in November to talk about their findings and discuss how we can get the information out to people who are considering replacing their windows when repairs would be better for the building, the environment, and their wallet.

Here are some highlights of the conversation:... 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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

Tweet Chat Reminder: Let's Talk Windows on November 7

Posted on: November 6th, 2012 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Since the dawn of the preservation movement -- or, at least it seems that way -- preservationists have been touting the value of maintaining historic windows. We know them to be one of the most defining characteristics of a building, as well as one that can be made highly energy-efficient, but with the constant drumbeat of replacement window advertising, our words are often drowned out.

However, with the arrival of the latest report from the Preservation Green Lab,  Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement, we now have all sorts of research to back up our claims about historic windows. (See our 10 Things You Should Know About Retrofitting Historic Windows for highlights.)

We'll be discussing the report -- and how to talk about it to the home and business owners in your community -- during this month's Twitter chat, taking place tomorrow, Wednesday, November 7, from 4:00-5:00 EST.

How to participate:

1. Sign in to TwitterTweetDeck or TweetChat. We (the chat moderators) usually use TweetChat since it adds the hash tag automatically and allows for easy replies and re-tweets.

2. Follow and tweet with the hashtag #builtheritage.

3. Watch for the questions in the Q1 format. Provide answers using the A1 format, and interact with other participants using replies and retweets.

What we mean by the Q1/A1 format is this: Questions (we usually have four per chat) are posed by the moderators as Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 about every 15 minutes. We ask that chatters reply with A1, A2, etc. to help everyone stay clear on what they’re responding to. A lot of side conversations and such still break out, but it helps keep things at least a little organized.

Hope to "see" you at the chat!

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

Young Preservationist: Daniel Linley Proves Old Windows' Worth

Posted on: November 1st, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 6 Comments

 

Written by Laura Wainmain, Editorial Intern

As part of back-to-school season, we’re featuring several impressive young preservationists who are saving places all around the country. This is the fourth profile in the series.

The window salesman who stopped by the 1917 Dutch Colonial home of Ann and Gary Linley probably has no idea that he was the inspiration for a sixth-grade science fair project. But after 12-year-old Daniel Linley of Elkhart, Ind. overheard his father turn down the salesman’s pitch to replace his historic sash-and-storm windows with new double-paned windows, he had an idea.

“I asked my dad why he didn’t buy the new windows, and Dad said our old windows were better,” says Daniel. “I didn’t believe him, so he challenged me to prove him wrong.” ... 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.

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.

Preservation Round-Up: Flying Saucer Edition

Posted on: October 5th, 2012 by Emily Potter 1 Comment

 


Photo of the 1967 building that was originally a gas station, recently rehabbed to house a Starbucks.

Starbucks in a Flying Saucer: STL Preservationists Embrace Modernism -- Next American City

"Last Friday was the sort of day preservationists in St. Louis, Mo. had only ever dreamed about. As the sun started breaking through the cloud-gray morning sky, a Starbucks coffee shop opened its doors inside a renovated space-age concrete gas station at Grand and Forest Park boulevards, the subject to an intense demolition threat just one year prior."

Preservationists Aim to Protect Corcoran Interior -- CBS Baltimore

"Historic preservationists are nominating the interior of the Corcoran Gallery of Art as an architectural landmark to try to protect the building as the struggling museum considers selling it."

Transbay Transit Center to Present Unique Opportunities for Open Spaces -- The San Francisco Examiner

"Historically, the dimly-lit underpasses of freeway ramps have been havens for homeless encampments, shady drug deals and other types of seedy behavior. With the development of the new Transbay Transit Center requiring several overhead ramps for buses, project backers might have been intimidated by the prospect of those unseemly spaces dotting the landscape of the SoMa District. Instead, they’re viewing such spaces as places for positive possibilities."

American Planning Association's Annual List of "Great Neighborhoods" -- Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"When I travel, I like to visit "neighborhood" or "traditional" commercial districts as part of exploring and learning about cities and places that are new to me. And if you work on urban, neighborhood, and/or commercial district revitalization, it's a good way to learn best practice, get ideas, and have fun."

8 Ways to Build More Sustainable Communities -- Sustainable Cities Collective

"When we introduced the topic of social sustainability for our recent #CityTalk with the Berkeley Group and Social Life, we knew that we had a challenge on our hands trying to define that which “many a thesis has tried and failed to define.” It was clear that we needed to put many more brains together to begin to wrap our minds around ways to build and design socially sustainable communities."

Preservation ABCs: D is for Door -- Preservation in Pink

“Architectural styles are defined by all elements of a building, from siding to windows to shape to massing, ornamentation, details and doors. As much as preservationists discuss the negative effects of window replacements, door replacements are often overlooked, yet just as detrimental.”

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.

Emily Potter

Emily Potter is a copywriter at the National Trust. She enjoys writing about places of all kinds, the stories that make them special, and the people who love them enough to save them.

 

Windows are the most visible, yet most commonly underappreciated, components of older and historic homes and buildings.

In addition to adding beauty and character, original windows serve a great purpose -- they connect the outside of the building to the inside and, as an integral part of the architecture, offer invaluable clues to a building's history.

Despite this value, however, historic windows often get the blame for a building’s energy loss. Most often, people jump to replace their historic windows because a) companies promise that their replacement windows will save clients time and money, and b) it’s promoted as the "green" thing to do. In fact, a thriving industry has grown around this perceived need to replace rather than restore.

The latest report from our Preservation Green Lab in Seattle, Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement, tackles this unfortunate perception head-on. The study examines multiple ways you can retrofit (read: modify) your historic windows for better performance, and outlines each option’s energy, carbon, and cost savings across a variety of climates.

The heartening result: Retrofits for historic windows perform comparably to new replacement windows, and almost every retrofit option offers a better return on investment (at a fraction of the cost).

For more facts and figures, we encourage you to read the full Preservation Green Lab report. In the meantime, check out the top 10 things you should know about retrofitting your historic windows.

1. Include retrofitting in your cost-benefit analysis.

As you’ll see throughout these tips, retrofitting historic or older windows has numerous, measurable benefits. Still, not every old window needs to be saved, so it can help property owners to ask these questions as part of their initial cost-benefit analysis:

  • Are my windows an important architectural or defining feature of my building?
  • Are there ways I can retrofit my windows to achieve greater energy efficiency?
  • Will replacement windows last as long as my originals?
  • Are there more cost-effective approaches available other than replacement windows?
  • Will replacement windows fit the character of my property or detract from it?

2. Tackle other energy-efficiency measures first.

Just as windows are a part of your whole house, so should they be part of a whole-house solution to cutting back on energy use. As we discussed in a previous 10 on Tuesday, first do an energy audit of your house, preferably with an experienced professional. They can help you evaluate energy-saving solutions, the proper order for implementing them, and estimated costs. Then consider what additional efficiency gains or energy savings retrofitting your windows can offer.

3. Retrofits have better returns on investments than replacement windows.

Window retrofits such as cellular shades, storm windows, and insulating shades can achieve energy savings comparable to replacements at a much lower cost. Interior storm windows also reduce potential exposure to lead-based paint, while exterior storm windows help extend the useful life of historic windows by offering protection from the elements.

In comparison, replacement windows may offer high energy performance improvement, but the upfront costs are substantial and are not rapidly recovered through savings in energy bills.

4. The range of energy performance for retrofit options varies significantly.

The highest performing retrofits include interior window panels, exterior storm windows, and combining insulating shades with exterior storm windows. The performance of these measures varies significantly depending on the climate in which they are installed (see next tip).

Weather stripping was found to have the lowest energy cost savings and a low average ROI relative to other window improvements. However, the study determined that when homeowners install the weather-stripping themselves, it produces a higher return than any of the other window options studied.

5. Take climate into consideration.

The best retrofit option for Phoenix may not be right for Chicago, given the difference in their heating and cooling needs. For example, in places like Chicago that rely more on heating, insulating cellular shades helped reduce heat loss (even more so if the window also had exterior storm windows).

Meanwhile, if you’re in a place that relies more on cooling systems, like Phoenix, consider whether exterior shading, such as overhangs, trees, or nearby buildings, is present. If these elements are already shading the windows -- or if windows are not oriented toward the sun -- the windows will receive minimal or no cooling benefit from a retrofit.

6. Take matters into your own hands.

Perform high-return, do-it-yourself installations first, where possible. Weather stripping (good for old, drafty windows) and interior surface film (good for homes with big cooling bills) generate immediate savings at a low cost and don’t prevent you from adding other cost-saving retrofits later.

Taking a phased approach to window upgrades -- focusing on the highest returns first and using savings to pay for future improvements -- can eventually lead to long-term savings of money, energy, and carbon emissions for older homes, even for households that are on a tight budget.

7. Saving existing windows is greener than producing new windows.

Keeping existing windows saves the energy and resources needed to create new windows. Like any product, the production of replacement windows requires materials, and these materials generate CO2 and other environmental hazards from the extraction, manufacture, transport, and disposal processes. Retrofit measures also require materials, but are often less materials-intensive and so impact the environment less than an entire window replacement.

8. Saving windows preserves a home’s character.

Historic windows were custom fit to their original openings and often have sizes and shapes not found today. Replacing them usually requires changing the size and/or shape of the opening. So while standard-sized new windows might save on operational costs, they’ll com¬promise the character and historic integrity of a home with smaller windows, less light, distorted proportions, and trim that doesn't match the opening.

Moreover, changing the opening’s size or shape decreases the chance that new stock replacement windows will fit well. The resulting gaps around the windows will be just as (if not more) drafty as the historic windows they’re replacing.

Tip: The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and The Secretary of the Interior’s Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings can guide you on how best to approach the preservation of windows in historically designated homes, or homes that may be eligible for listing.

9. Older windows are built with high-quality materials.

Wood windows made prior to the 1940s are likely to be made from old growth wood -- a stable, dense wood that mills well, holds paint and stain well, is not as attractive to insects, and has natural rot resistance. Also, the wood was most likely harvested locally, making it better suited for local climate conditions.

10.    Older windows can be repaired.

Traditional windows are made from individual parts. Each piece -- the rails, stiles, muntins, stops, sill, stool, jamb, etc. -- can be individually repaired or replaced in kind. Vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, and composite windows are manufactured as a unit, and the components generally cannot be repaired. When a part fails, or the insulated glass seal breaks, or the vinyl warps, the entire unit must be replaced.

Bonus benefit of older windows: Repairing and increasing the energy performance of existing wood windows is good for the local economy, as hiring a window repair specialist to refurbish windows creates skilled local jobs.

So, as you can see, historic windows have a lot going for them, and the more you understand what options are available for improving them, the better you can protect your building’s character -- and your wallet’s health. Read the Preservation Green Lab report to learn more.

For a more detailed report summary, check out Preservation Leadership Forum's post Old Windows Are Worth It.

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.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the director of digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.