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Sustainability

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Sustainability

Sometimes overlooked in the focus on the natural landscape is the direct relationship between environmental protection and historic preservation. Examples of this relationship include:

A. When a vacant townhouse is restored, a new house need not be built in a greenfield.
B. When an obsolete warehouse is converted into loft apartments, one less farm is converted into a housing development.
C. When one more historic building is not torn down, tons of construction waste isn’t added to the local landfill.
D. When county commissioners learn to just say no to one more peripheral shopping center, the historic downtown’s chance of survival is increased.
E. When an existing neighborhood is revitalized instead of razed, waterlines, sewer lines, roads, curbs, gutters, fire stations, treatment plants, schools, streetlights, sidewalks, overpasses, and police stations don’t have to be built on undeveloped land.
F. When an historic building is reused, the labor and materials already incorporated into it are conserved (known as the embodied energy of a building).
G. When historic neighborhoods are protected and enhanced, there is already a pedestrian friendly environment without building a new subdivision and calling it that.
H. When there is a preservation-based downtown revitalization strategy, offering the opportunity for small business start-up in quality historic buildings, a concrete block strip center isn’t needed.

Historic preservation is an automatic commitment to the environment. Environmental issues- saving farmland, preserving wetlands, keeping forests and open space, reducing solid waste disposal, reducing automobile emissions, increasing pedestrian traffic- are made easier if there is a solid historic preservation policy. At the heart of environmentalism is recycling; historic preservation is the ultimate recycling.

National Institute of Building Sciences (Sustainable Historic Preservation)
National Trust for Historic Preservation (Sustainability and Historic Preservation)

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