The Results Are In: My Home Energy Audit

Posted on: May 7th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Two weeks ago, I blogged on Earth Day about an energy audit I had done on my middle-aged house.

There was a lot of information shared with me that day – more than I could really process or remember, even with my photos and copious notes. Luckily, a few days later, I received a detailed report from Pascale, my extremely knowledgeable auditor from Energy Efficiency Experts. What a help! She pulled together the major recommendations as a checklist for the actions that I need to take. She also provided links, phone numbers and resources for how and where I can purchase some easy fixes that I can do on my own, such as installing a chimney balloon in my leaky chimney flue and weather stripping my front door.

And, as if I needed any additional incentive, the report includes an energy-use comparison between my home and a similarly-sized counterpart that is sealed, insulated and equipped with energy-efficient appliances. Those little charts and graphs are definitely eye openers! It also has some great references on where to buy compact fluorescents – including dimmable ones and where to recycle them! I’m planning to follow up by installing some smart power strips, which will help reduce my phantom energy load.

I have taken some other steps since my audit. I’ve purchased weather stripping, caulk, spray foam and cement to patch my many holes and cracks, and let me tell you, I’m putting them to good use. I’m also starting to call insulation contractors to get some quotes.

As a card-carrying environmentalist, I’m relieved to learn that there are many easy actions that I can take to save money while making my older home more energy efficient. After all, you don’t have to demolish older and historic homes or commercial buildings to reduce your carbon footprint.

I encourage you all to put your home to the test. It’s worth it.

>> Download My Full Energy Audit Report

- Denise Ryan

Denise Ryan is the public lands policy program manager for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Visit PreservationNation.org to learn more about how the National Trust celebrated Earth Day.

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.

Tales from the AIA Convention

Posted on: May 6th, 2009 by Barbara Campagna

 

The new Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood, near the Moscone Convention Center, the location of this year's AIA Convention.

The new Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco

Last week I made my annual mecca to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention, held this year in San Francisco. This is my favorite conference every year because it reinforces my decision (or rather calling) at the age of 14 to become an architect. This year was particularly special because I was inducted into the AIA College of Fellows, along with three of my friends who are also preservation architects. In fact, of the 112 inductees, a large portion were architects who mentioned preservation or adaptive use in their statements – it was large enough that everyone was commenting on it. It made me think that possibly being a preservation architect is no longer on the edge of architecture but has become more mainstream. And that’s a good thing.

Sustainability Isn’t Separate or Special Anymore

One of the best things I noticed about the convention was that there was no longer a “sustainable” track or theme. Instead, it was now an integral component of the convention and most of the talks. And starting this year architects need to get sustainable design (SD) credits as part of our continuing education requirements. So I focused on going to sessions that would allow me to complete these new SD requirements.

Can We Live More Like a Redwood Forest Than a Ragweed?

Dongtan City, a megacity designed by Arup located on the third largest island in China at the mouth of the Yangtze River.  (Renderings from www.arup.com).

Dongtan City, a megacity designed by Arup located on the third largest island in China at the mouth of the Yangtze River. (Renderings from www.arup.com).

The opening keynote on Thursday (April 30th) was presented by Peter Head, a principal at Arup.

Peter works in Asia evaluating and developing megacities in China. On the surface that would seem an incredibly unsustainable action, but I must say his discussion of the social and cultural issues, both ours and theirs, made me think about sustainable development in the “developing” world in a whole new light. His underlying concern was whether our planet can actually sustain 10 billion people when the way we have been living and our use of non-renewable resources is in essence shrinking our planet, which is a closed system.

... 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.

“Wilderness Wal-Mart” Update: 145th Anniversary of the 1864 Battle

Posted on: May 6th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Robert Nieweg

Wal-Mart continues to pursue its flawed plan to build a “Superstore” within the boundaries of the 1864 Wilderness Battlefield and just across the roadway from the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Wal-Mart’s 140,000-square foot big-box would permanently harm the battlefield, frustrate private-public initiatives to preserve the battlefield and restore 1864’s open viewscapes, and undermine the visitor's experience of the National Park. Critically, Wal-Mart would facilitate more large-scale commercial development.

Preservationists are asking Wal-Mart to relocate its store to another location in Orange County, VA – away from the historic battlefield and National Park. However, on May 21, 2009, Wal-Mart’s proposal is likely to be heard by the Orange County Planning Board.

Here is an update on advocacy to save Wilderness Battlefield:

  • Historian James McPherson published a thoughtful opinion piece in the May 3, 2009, edition of the Washington Post observing: “There is still time for Wal-Mart to recognize its error and identify another location. This week marks the 145th anniversary of the Battle of the Wilderness, a perfect opportunity to seek a solution in everyone's best interests. The Wilderness Battlefield is a living memorial to American sacrifice and heroism. It would be tragic if such a landmark was lost through the short-sightedness of local decision-makers and Wal-Mart's stubborn refusal to consider reasonable alternatives.
  • Actor Robert Duvall, Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) convened a press event at the National Park on May 4, 2009, to raise awareness of Wilderness Wal-Mart. In February 2009, Congressman Welch and Congressman Poe wrote to Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott, stating: “There are countless other locations your company could consider for a more responsibly sited development in this region. We feel the definition of corporate responsibility must always extend to respecting storied lands and respecting a community’s natural landscape and surroundings when choosing a site for a store. Those values should not be eroded for the sake of commercial gain.”
  • On May 4th, Mr. Duvall said: “The Wal-Mart Corporation has within its power to be a savior of the Wilderness battlefield. Simply by moving to an alternate location slightly farther from the battlefield, they have the ability to protect this critical piece of American history.”
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Wilderness Battlefield Coalition have offered to pay for a land-use planning study to balance preservation and sustainable economic development at this vulnerable site. To their credit, one of Orange County’s major private property owners has joined us to endorse the preservationists’ land-use planning process. However, the Orange County Board of Supervisors dismissed our offer of assistance as a “ruse” to delay Wal-Mart.
  • Once again, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star editorialized on April 21, 2009, in support of battlefield preservation and land-use planning, observing: “Those sharp retorts heard recently from the direction of the Wilderness Battlefield were the sounds of Orange County supervisors shooting down a proposed planning study for the county’s eastern gateway. Alas, their shortsightedness made them miss the target altogether. … That’s a classic ‘ready fire aim’ view. Because once the big-box store is planted, others will sprout up, and the chance to ‘plan’ obviated. … Rejecting the reasonable request of the Wilderness Coalition is foolish. Orange supervisors should rethink their position. The target of the public good still stands. Only they can hit it.”

Please join thousands of Americans by signing the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s petition to protect historic Wilderness Battlefield.

Robert Nieweg is the Director of the Southern Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

Senior Citizens in Scrabble, VA Are Going Back To School

Posted on: May 6th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Crista Gibbons

Nanette Butler Roberts, a Scrabble alumna, sings the Star Spangled Banner.

Nanette Butler Roberts, a Scrabble alumna, sings the Star Spangled Banner.

Last Saturday, rather than tend to my normal “mommy” weekend duties, I left the kids with my husband and went to work. But it was no typical day at work -- it turned out to be one of the most beautiful and moving memories I have of my nine years at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

I drove two hours to Rappahannock County in rural Virginia to attend the re-dedication ceremony of the Scrabble School. It is a former Rosenwald School that has been restored and reopened as a senior center thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and support from private and public organizations such as Lowe’s and the National Trust.

The celebration opened with a prayer, followed by the Color Guard (local Boy Scout troop 36) unfurling the flag for Nanette Butler Roberts, a Scrabble alumna, to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Nanette sang with such emotion that the entire crowd joined in. It was a beautiful moment that moved many of use to tears.

The Scrabble School, before its renovation.

The Scrabble School, before its renovation.

The Scrabble School is a wonderful preservation success story. Just a few years ago, area residents facetiously nicknamed it the “Scrabble Mall,” a reference to the dumpster divers drawn to the school each Saturday when the County dumped new loads of rubbish in the two dumpsters in front of the school. In addition to the trash in the front, the building itself was in disrepair and being overtaken by brush.

Today, the building is fully restored and open for business as the new Rappahannock Senior Center. And bringing this story full-circle is the fact that many of the seniors that will use the center and benefit from it today are among the alumni of the Scrabble School. The building stands strong and offers a beacon of hope to so many other Rosenwald Schools that are endangered across the South. So many, are in fact at risk of being lost forever that the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rosenwald Schools to their “11 Most Endangered” list in 2002.

Scrabble school alumni say "This Place Matters!"

Scrabble school alumni say "This Place Matters!"

After the ceremony, I was able to sit down and interview many of the alumni. As they spoke fondly of their years as students in the small, two room schoolhouse, I listened to countless memories that flooded through their minds. They talked about their walks to school, vocabulary lessons, spelling bees, theatrical plays, feeding the stoves, crushes on boys, and so much more. Almost all of them mentioned “Soup Day,” a special day once a week when a mother brought in warm soup for all of the children. The rest of the time  they packed cold lunches and sandwiches, as there was no stove for warm meals.

Lowe's employee Judi Vigay and her aunt, Scrabble School alumna Laurie Noakes Jackson.

Lowe's employee Judi Vigay and her aunt, Scrabble School alumna Laurie Noakes Jackson.

Judi Vigay had both a professional and personal connection to the school, representing not only the local Lowe’s store, but also sharing the moment with her aunt, Laurie Noakes Jackson, a 1924 alumna of the Scrabble School.

The day was full of these poignant examples of the personal impact of preservation. In the coming weeks, excerpts from my conversations with the alums will be posted on PreservationNation, and I encourage you to tune in.

Learn more about:

Click here to read The Rappahannock Voice story about the event.

Crista Gibbons is the assistant director of the Business Development office at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

A Letter to the Governor Of West Virginia Regarding Blair Mountain

Posted on: May 5th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Following news that the State of West Virginia requested that Blair Mountain be removed from the National Register of Historic Places, several committed volunteers helped the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia gather signatures for a scholars’ letter, urging an alternative to surface mining on the site. More than 80 writers, historians, archaeologists and other experts signed on, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson and noted historian Henry Louis Gates.

The letter was delivered to Governor Manchin’s office last week:

Dear Governor Manchin:

As historians, archaeologists, and other scholars, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to investigate all avenues for preserving and interpreting the nationally significant Blair Mountain Battlefield, which was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Blair Mountain is the site of the largest civil insurrection in American history since the Civil War. The struggle that took place on the mountain pitted approximately 10,000 coal miners against an army of 5,000 who were opposed to their unionization attempts. More than one million rounds of ammunition were fired in the confrontation during the late summer of 1921.

Although the miners were defeated there, the American labor movement began slowly to gather momentum. The egregious conditions in the nation’s coal fields that were exposed by the miners’ actions drew public attention to the working conditions confronting laborers in every sector of the nation’s industry. The fight to unionize was synonymous with the fight to bring dignity, democracy, and safety to American work places.

The Blair Mountain Battlefield is a unique historic and cultural treasure that deserves recognition and protection. Archaeological research performed in preparing the National Register nomination indicates that the battlefield has tremendous integrity, as it presents a rich and well-preserved record of the details of the conflict. This preliminary research has revealed interesting and provocative information about force movements, weaponry, and strategies used by both sides in the battle. These findings are especially critical, given fallible and sometimes contradictory narratives of the battle. No doubt much remains to be discovered, and scholars must be able to continue to study this important chapter in American history.

We are concerned that the recent attempt to delist Blair Mountain from the National Register may be a first step toward strip-mining the mountain for coal production, which will destroy the historic site. The National Park Service found that the battlefield is both significant and intact, and we believe it must be preserved for future generations. If mining is necessary, we strongly encourage the state and federal agencies with oversight over mining to work with the property owners to find a solution that will allow mining on Blair Mountain without destroying the historic site.

There’s still time to sign the National Trust’s general petition! Click here to take action!

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.