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Tapping the Synergies of Green Building
and Historic Preservation
Proponents of these two highly dedicated and concerned movements are finding ways to work together to advance their many shared values
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By Nancy B. Solomon, AIA


Policy glitches

The biggest complaint many preservationists seem to have with the sustainability movement does not pertain to the concepts themselves, but to LEED. First introduced in March 2000, the rating is essentially a checklist divided into six basic categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environment quality, and innovation and design process. Within each category are various prerequisites and suggested strategies. A building receives points for implementing a particular strategy within a category. Buildings that earn the required minimum number of points are considered LEED certified.

The Cleveland Green Building Coalition bought a 1918 bank (above) and renovated it using many sustainable features, including a green roof (below), solar panels, a geothermal system, and waterless urinals.
A radiant heat system was installed in the 26-foot-high lobby (below).

Photos: Courtesy Cleveland Green Building Coalition


Although most historic structures undergoing major renovation easily win points on several counts—including reuse of existing shell and proximity to public transportation—some practitioners have expressed concern that the current rating system, which is being required by more and more well-meaning clients, does not give sufficient credit to preservation practices or take into account certain limitations. Jean Carroon notes that without significant alteration of the building fabric many unlisted historic buildings cannot meet the tighter envelope requirements of ASHRAE 90.1, which is a prerequisite of LEED. (Fortunately, LEED does make allowances for listed historic buildings.)


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