Green

Giving Thanks for Carbon Offsets

Posted on: November 22nd, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

1911 Dutch Colonial in the Delaware District, Buffalo, NYGratitude

An article in the NY Times on Thanksgiving encouraged readers to keep a “gratitude journal” reporting that just by writing down the things that you are thankful for you will become happier. A doctor once told me if you smile as soon as you wake up, that will make you happier. I think both suggestions really are just positive reinforcements – if you think about being happy you can become happy.

I thought a lot about being happy as I drove the 450 miles from my home in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington DC to my sister’s 1911 Dutch Colonial house in Buffalo, NY the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I listened to Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band and even yoga chanting to keep from going into continuous road rage. I had hoped to leave at 1pm so that the 8 hour drive would get me to Buffalo by 9 pm, getting through most of the Pennsylvania mountains in the daylight. Unfortunately, I loaded my Subaru Forester in front of my Art Deco apartment building – with luggage, wine and my cats – to then back over a sewer cover which gave me a flat tire. Leaving at 4pm then put me on the Beltway right in the middle of rush hour – and 2 hours later I had only gone 50 miles and was still in the DC Metro area. This really got me thinking a lot about the carbon impact of all those cars, every day and the 40% population increase projected for the DC area in the next 10 years.

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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.

A Report from the Greenbuild Conference in Chicago – Part 1

Posted on: November 14th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

The Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Chicago, ILNovember 7th-9th, 2007

In only 7 years, the US Green Building Conference’s Annual conference, Greenbuild, has grown to become one of the largest conferences in our field, with over 25,000 people attending this year. The irony of bringing so many people together from around the hemisphere to discuss how to limit our human role in climate change, is not lost on me, or most of the other attendees I would guess. I will happily stay in denial over how much extra carbon is inflicted on the world by such a huge gathering. How many miles of ice loss at the poles or Greenland could be traced to the gathering of this group? But what’s the alternative? Do we become hermits and never leave our homes? The answer to protection of our world can’t be that we lose all human contact because then why bother? What’s the most sustainable world? Well, probably one without us in it….

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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.

Sun, Sand, Sustainability…And Sprawl Too!

Posted on: November 10th, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

Fort San Geronimo, Caribe Hilton, San JuanI 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.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: November 9th, 2007 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

 

Henry Clay Street, New OrleansWhat do you do if you find a prime location for your dream house but an existing house is in the way? Well, you can purchase the house and try to demolish it. This week I went to the New Orleans City Council to speak against a proposal to demolish an undamaged 1890’s Queen Anne style house on Henry Clay Street in the Audubon Park neighborhood so that the owners could build a new "green" house. The couple bought the house for $900,000, and they and their realtor contend that they didn’t realize they would have to get approval from the Housing Conservation District Review Committee (HCDRC) for its demolition. This is a committee that has been around for over seven years to hear demolition cases in historic neighborhoods outside of the local historic districts.

This urge to demolish is especially shocking given that its goal was supposedly sustainability, as it is a complete contradiction of what the green building movement envisions. It would be more responsible to apply green building principles to the current building--exploring ways to conserve energy, preserving its original materials, and ensuring that the building continues to exist for another 100 years. The resources contained in this house will be wasted and lost forever with its demolition.

When the committee unanimously turned them down, they appealed to the City Council. The Council voted unanimously to uphold the HCDRC. It’s hard to believe that in a city that can ill-afford to lose its historic built environment, someone would think nothing of demolishing a sound building in a historic neighborhood—but obviously even post-Katrina New Orleans is not immune from the national tear-downs trend.

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.

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.