Sustainable Restoration of Historic Buildings


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Presentation by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich for the USGBC Upstate NY Chapter

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  • Know Your Building: Many older building have passive heating and cooling systems designed right into them. Learn how your building/home works so that you do not prevent these systems from working (example: operable windows, natural ventilation).
    Find Photos of the Building in its Prime: Photos may reveal awnings and plantings that helped shade the building that should be added back to the design to maximize natural cooling capacity.
    Whole Building Design: "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." – John Muir, founder, Sierra Club: In planning a renovation or expansion project for a historic building learn how the building’s systems work together, retain building materials where possible, recycle what you cannot reuse.
  • Respect the Windows! Old windows were fabricated from old wood. It's generally denser and lasts longer than the new wood used for modern windows. Repair and maintain them when possible rather than replacing.
    Reveal Natural Lighting: Look for transom lights, fanlights and skylights that have been painted over or covered up and restore them to maximize natural light in the space.
    Use What You Already Have! Inspect, maintain and repair your existing roof.
  • Beware Moisture: When insulating interior walls be careful not to create an environment where more moisture is created/released as this can damage building materials (example: when insulating stone/brick wall structures the exterior wall will be colder than it was previously, slowing the process of evaporation of wetness on the surface, and consequently causing it to stay damp and leading to damage).
    Insulate Unfinished Basements / Crawlspaces: Unfinished spaces beneath the ground floor with rugged walls and dirt, brick, or fieldstone foundations? Install the insulation on the basement ceiling or between the first floor joists. The insulation's vapor barrier must be facing up.
    Diminish Solar Installation Visibility: Consider installations that do not harm building materials (free standing) or those that are building materials themselves (solar shingles).
    Consult an Expert: No one is expected to know everything! Find preservation experts that can help you balance sustainable building practices with preservation and restoration techniques to help you achieve these two goals. They really are complementary goals, not competing goals!
  • Restored greenhouse and lay lights to enhance daylighting in original building
    Daylight harvesting system
    Dual flush toilets
    White roof – most noticeable energy efficient feature

  • Historic Preservation → Sustainability Goals
    Historic Windows → Daylight and Views
    Durable, high-quality materials and craftsmanship → Building Reuse, Materials Reuse
    Intelligent site design → Optimize Energy Performance, Daylight and Views
    Preservation, not tear-down → Site Selection, Development Density, Public Transportation Access, Brownfield Redevelopment, Maximize Open Space Source: Going Green by Protecting the Past, Wendy Heger, AIA, LEED AP, Public Library Association Conference, March 2010

    Site selection
    Development density – located in downtown with existing infrastructure to protect habitat and natural resources
    No added parking to reduce pollution and development
    Building reuse
    Low-emitting materials, adhesives, sealants and paints
    Indoor pollutant source control (big entry mats)
    Daylighting and views for 90% of spaces
    Heat island – non-roof – restored landscape

  • Sustainable Restoration of Historic Buildings

    1. 1. Sustainable Restoration of Historic Buildings Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, MLS, NaSBA , LEED AP| PhotoCredit:AnnBehaArchitects
    2. 2. The U.S. Green Building Council New York Upstate Chapter is a Registered Provider with The American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Systems. Credit earned on completion of This program will be reported to CES Records for AIA members. Certificates of Completion for non-AIA members are available upon request. This program is registered with the AIA/CES for continuing professional education. As such, it does not include content that be deemed or construed to be an approval or endorsement by the AIA of any material of construction or any method or manner of handling, using, distributing, or dealing in any material or product. Questions related to specific materials, methods, and services will be addressed at the conclusion of this presentation.
    3. 3. This presentation is available at © 2010. Portions of this presentation may be reproduced for noncommercial purposes provided attribution of source is included.
    4. 4. Top Ten Tips  Learn How Your Building Works  Find Photos of the Building in its Prime  Whole Building Design
    5. 5.  Respect the Windows  Reveal Natural Lighting  Use What You Already Have!  Beware Moisture
    6. 6.  Insulate Unfinished Basements / Crawlspaces  Solar Installation Visibility  Consult an Expert
    7. 7. Crandall Public Library Glens Falls, New York •Original building designed by architect Charles Platt in 1931 •$18 million renovation & expansion project •Daylight harvesting system •LEED Certified Photo credits: Ann Beha Architects & Rebekkah Smith Aldrich
    8. 8. Houston Public Library Julia Ideson Building Houston, Texas •National Register of Historic Places •Designed in 1926 by Ralph Adams Cram •LEED Silver Photo credits: Houston Public Library
    9. 9. Carnegie-Stout Public Library Dubuque, Iowa •Originally built in 1909 •National Register of Historic Places •$6.5 million renovation project •LEED Silver Photo credits: Carnegie-Stout Public Library
    10. 10. More Examples  Barton Group Headquarters, Glens Falls, NY  President Lincoln’s Cottage Visitor Education Center, Washington, DC  Gerding Theater at the Armory, Portland, OR  Working Horse Farm, Fauquier County, VA
    11. 11. Resources • Greening Historic Buildings | April 2010 • Historic Preservation and Green Building: A Lasting Relationship Environmental Building News | January 2007 • National Trust for Historic Preservation | – Preservation Green Lab – Start with the Roof: A Guide for Keeping Weather Tight resources/nthp_roofing.pdf • Preservation Brief 3: Conserving Energy in Historic Buildings National Park Service | • Sustainable Historic Preservation Whole Building Guide |
    12. 12. Questions? Thank you for your time. This concludes the American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Systems Program Rebekkah Smith Aldrich