Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Help Preservation LEED the Way!

Preservationists are well aware of the confusing disconnect between green building and historic preservation.  For some of us, this is a no-brainer: if you are reusing an existing building, that saves our natural resources, keeps building materials from the landfill, and often maintains some pretty significant environmental design principles like building orientation, wind breaks, energy efficient solid brick walls, and other features.  Unfortunately, many of those in the green building world see old buildings as the enemy that must be eradicated!  New technology is best!  Tear it down!  Build it new!  It can't possibly be energy efficient unless its new!

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an international building and construction rating system being used in many states and localities to develop green buildings.  In LEED's earliest forms, it gave very few points for building or material reuse unless the materials were bought elsewhere.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been diligently working with the U.S. Green Building Council to improve the LEED standards.  The most recent LEED draft is out with a comment period through January 14th.  Check out the National Trust's blog posting to learn more about how you can comment on the new standards.

A great project in our area that brings together historic preservation and LEED principles is the Blacksburg Motor Company building.  This 1920's Art Deco building was built as an automobile showroom and service station.  When Blacksburg needed more space for its Planning and Engineering Department, the Motor Company building next door was a good location.  After restoration and environmental remediation, the building has improved the streetscape while keeping the offices in the walkable downtown, a geothermal heat pump conditions the building, and many historic features of the building were maintained including the tin ceilings and large showroom windows.  The town received  state and federal historic tax credits while achieving a LEED Platinum rating for the building.

Make your voice heard and help preservation LEED the way with more great projects like the Blacksburg Motor Company building by commenting on the new LEED guidelines!

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