Nakita Reed, architect, inspects an historic church on the Eastern Shore.

PreserveCast S1E5: It’s Easy Being Green with Architect Nakita Reed

02/23/2017
By Preservation Maryland

Nakita Reed, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, GGP, is a founder and principal at Maryland’s Encore Sustainable Design, an architecture firm that takes a holistic approach to sustainability in the built environment. We at Preservation Maryland are lucky to have her on our Board of Directors and the interviewee for this episode of PreserveCast:

[NICHOLAS REDDING] The Secret Lives of Architects: Ever wonder what architects are up to when they’re not designing new buildings? Well, there is a good chance they’re actually engaging in historic preservation of old ones. We spoke with Nakita Reed of Encore Sustainable Design about her career as both an architect and a preservationist and how she found her passion for these two worlds. Nakita also shared with us some tips on making historic buildings more sustainable and when an architect might be the right person to call. Sustainable design? More like a good time. Let’s have one with PreserveCast.

[INTRO] From Preservation Maryland’s studios in the historic podcast district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast!

[NICK] Nakita Reed co-founded Encore Sustainable Design, LLC, to focus on good design preservation and making buildings more sustainable. She’s a licensed architect skilled in the design of restoration and adaptive reuse projects. Mrs. Reed is trained in multiple sustainable platforms including LEED and Green Globes. She’s been a LEED-accredited professional on many new and historic buildings and is well versed in ways to incorporate sustainable features into these designs. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia and completed her graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Masters of Architecture, Masters of Science in Historic Preservation, and a Certificate in Ecological Architecture. Additionally, Nakita serves as vice president on the Preservation Maryland Board of Directors. Thanks for joining us, Nakita.

[NAKITA REED] Oh, you’re very welcome. Thanks for having me.

[NICK] So you’re on PreserveCast, which is a podcast, as you know, that is focusing, at least in 2017, on the intersection of technology and historic preservation. And I feel like we couldn’t have a better person to talk to about that because you’re bio basically reads as the intersection [laughter] of technology and historic preservation.

[NAKITA] Very true. Yeah, I’m excited that this podcast is happening.

Nakita Reed and Ward Bucher of Encore Sustainable Design.

[NICK] So let me ask you, just kind of jump right into this, I mean, what is your background? Did you always know that you were going to be a lead architect? Did you kind of set out to do something like that? Were you a kid that just loved architecture? How did it all come about?

[NAKITA] Yeah, so when I was younger, I used to take the train a lot from DC to Pittsburgh, and, as you know, there are a lot of train tracks that go through old cities. And so I always found myself imagining, what were these cities when they were vibrant, and why did they become dilapidated. And then I would imagine what it would take to make them vibrant again. And so I went to architecture school just because I knew I always had a fascination with existing buildings and wanting to do something in the environment. When I realized that architecture school did not teach me anything about existing and historic buildings, I realized I needed to learn more. And so that’s part of why I went back to Penn to get my Master’s in Historic Preservation.

[NICK] Mella, let me ask you, just to interrupt for a second. You say that architecture school really didn’t touch on that.

[NAKITA] No.

[NICK] Do you think that’s a common experience for a lot of people?

[NAKITA] Yes. Even when I was at Penn I found that my architecture colleagues, they were very much like, “Oh, why are you a preservationist? Preservationists, they just hold up progress. They’re in the way. They’re stuck in the past.” Then a lot of my preservation colleagues were like, “Oh, architects don’t know how to design buildings. Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings leaked.” And there was kind of this two separate camps, not realizing that the mix and kind of the intersection of both preservation and architecture is where we need to be focusing because there’s more existing and historic buildings in the country than there are new buildings.

Reed was appointed to the Maryland Green Building Council by the Governor in 2016.

Now, the Architecture 2030 Challenge has this great diagram of we’re going to renovate a certain square footage of buildings, but an astounding number. And then we’re going to build these new buildings, which is going to be a less number. Anyways, and even the National Trust for Historic Preservation did a great study [The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse, 2011] on comparing if we were to demolish this historic building and then building a new high performing building in its place, how long would it take to recoup those carbon impacts? And what’s the avoided cost of demolition? And there are different stats that said if you tore down a historic building and you rebuilt it in a very new, high performing way, it would still take about 50-60 years to recoup the cost of demolition of the historic building. And there are other great things in that study that I found that basically, before air conditioning was invented, before architects forgot how to design with nature, buildings were more sustainable. We had larger windows that we could open. Everything wasn’t automatically sealed. We had overhangs to protect a building from water infiltration. So it was just a lot of kind of forgetting that happened within architecture, and then it kind of became a split between kind of new architecture and the very Frank Gehry, new design, let’s make it swooping and all these crazy, beautiful, but very organic shapes, versus the more traditional, well let’s preserve what was there.

So, anyways, that’s a long way to get back to – when I was in school, I realized that there was this disconnect between what I was being taught in architecture and what I was being taught in preservation, and there needed to be an intersection. And so then, in terms of the green thing, it didn’t make sense to me that things shouldn’t be sustainable. It’s great that the building looks good but if the building is causing harm to the environment, if it’s not making sense to the people occupying it, or if it is just so crazy expensive that no one’s going to be able to maintain it, then that’s a problem.

[NICK] Right, and so, you graduate with all of these degrees and letters after your name, and you’re the vice president of the Preservation Maryland board so I know when we write your name it’s a lot.

[NAKITA] I know.

[NICK] We need lots of space because there’s lots of cool letters that goes after it. But you come out of your education with that. And do you immediately go into private practice? How did it work?

[NAKITA] No. So I Interned at Vitetta, which was a Philadelphia firm. And got to work on a lot of cool projects up there like the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As well as Duke Farms, in NJ, which is a sustainable renovation of Doris Duke’s – it wasn’t her home – but the Duke family had a home in Hillsborough, NJ–

[NICK] They had a lot of homes, I think.

Philadelphia Museum of Art during renovations. Photo by Videtta Architecture.

[NAKITA] Yeah. This is true. So I did that. And then, all of my years of undergrad and even before I went back to grad school, I worked for Ward Bucher, who is my current business partner. But I actually started working for him in undergrad because my mom knew his banker and so, I started as his secretary. And then we just kind of stayed in touch through the years.

But after Penn, I went and worked at AECOM for a while, for about two years in Roanoke, VA. So it’s a very different pace going from Philadelphia, PA, down to southwest Virginia in Roanoke but it was fantastic. I got to work on a lot of different government jobs and sustainability pieces and blending a little bit of the two. And being at AECOM and having the responsibilities that I had there, gave me the confidence to — and kind of helped me realize, “Hey, I knew what I was doing.” And there’d be times when historic preservation consultants would call me at AECOM and then I’d give them the answer. They’d do the work, but then they’d get paid. And I was like, “Well, I could be getting paid [laughter]. Maybe I can try this out and do some things.” So then, there’s a personal tragedy in my life that I was able to then get an inheritance and have a financial cushion to go out on my own. And talked to Ward and start Encore. And so, I figured I was young enough to give it a try and if it didn’t work out, worse case scenario, I’d just get another job.

[NICK] And it’s obviously been working out. And I think that’s interesting because a lot of people feel — you hear a lot of people say, “I’d love to make my house more efficient. More green. But it’s too expensive, I could never afford it.” And obviously, there’s a market for this. There are people who can afford this. And it’s not just affording it, but also, there’s sort of a return on investment when you make your already green, I should say historic building because the greenest building is one that’s already standing. So you’re already taking a green building in a sense, and making it even greener. And so, I’m curious, what would be a common project that you would undertake that, sort of straddles that divide between greening and sustainability and a historic building? Maybe for like a commercial project, what would that look like?

[NAKITA] Right. So for a commercial project, it’s always important. And actually, for any project, it’s always important to assess what you currently have. Because while I definitely agree that the greenest building is the one that’s already built in terms of not having to demolish it and take new virgin resources to create something new. We still do have to take a look at how our buildings are operating. And a lot of times, the systems that and historic buildings are out-of-date. The way that our technology’s progressing, systems are getting – are approaching their end of life cycle within 20-23 years.

[NICK] So if you had a historic home that hasn’t had any sort of energy upgrade or is still running the same AC system from the ’70s and it’s not working efficiently, you’re not cleaning the filters, it could be time for an upgrade.

[NAKITA] Right. So if you’re grandma put in the air conditioner, it’s probably time to fix it.

[NICK] Right. Most likely. Yes [laughter].

Energy audits are a great first step in making your old or historic home more energy efficient. Preservation Maryland has entered a partnership with Energy Services Group, a Maryland-based energy company, that will perform an audit in your home, offer recommendations, and do much of the retrofitting work – and donate back a portion of those costs to support historic preservation! Find out more and sign up for your audit at: presmd.org/esg.

[NAKITA] And so assessing what you currently have is always the first step. So we want to take a look at what systems are running, are they working properly, are they leaking, what is the current state of the insulation? So what’s the insulation in your roof? What’s insulation under your floor? So, for instance, if you have a basement that’s unoccupied, then you want to make sure that you have insulation before the first floor joists, because you want to, you’re thinking of the thermal envelope. And if you’re going to occupy a space, then you don’t need to condition it. Or, sorry, you don’t need to insulate it, per se. Of course, it depends on if there’s equipment in there, so there’s always caveats to all of this.

[NICK] Right, and I think that, just to interject here, I think a lot of people are probably leaning a little closer to the radios or computers right now as you say that, because it’s a frigid, cold day, and so the idea of having a little bit warmer space. I mean, it’s not only is this energy efficient, but also, it’s just going to make your house a little bit more comfortable. I mean, nobody likes a cold floor.

[NAKITA] Exactly. And it’s one of those things where I know a lot of people and windows, in particular, are always a point of contention in the preservation circle.

[NICK] Right.

[NAKITA] And sometimes people get – they get taken advantage of by a sales person who comes and says, “Hey. Replace your old windows because your house will be so much warmer.” Well, that’s not always the case. And then even there have been plenty of studies that show that you lose more heat through poor insulation in the attic and then poor insulation in the walls then you do the windows. It’s something like 10% through the windows versus 30% to 20% other places of the building. So you always want to get a sense of where can you actually make the best improvement because one of the downsides of – particularly if you have old historic wood windows you can get those repaired, and then they will last for another 40, 50, 100 years depending upon the quality.

Whereas if you replace your old historic wood windows with a plastic replacement window, I mean, replacement is in the name of the window. They’re letting you know, “Hey. In 20 years, you’re going to have to replace these windows all again.”

So, anyway. So checking your windows, if you have wood windows, and you can’t afford to repair them, you can always put storm windows either on the inside or the outside. You just have to be mindful of where you are in the country and what the climate is so that you’re not getting condensation in the wrong places. Making sure that you caulk around the windows and making sure you cork around any openings where you can feel air coming in. Imagine if all of the little cracks around your house were in one area, and it would make a bigger hole you would want to fix the hole, so cork around openings, doors, windows, and just see what’s that looking like and then after that, I would say operationally. So some of it’s lifestyle habits in terms of making your building more efficient: turn off lights if you’re not in rooms, change your refrigerator coils or dust them to make sure that your refrigerator isn’t operating harder than it needs to, empty your water – water tank – if you have a tanked water heater, make sure that you’re emptying it once a year and maintaining it the way it needs to be maintained. So sometimes a lot of sustainability is the stuff that isn’t seen and it’s more of the common sense maintenance stuff, but all of that would help us get into it.

Interior storm windows are a great solution for sealing your windows and keeping the heating and cooling that you’re paying for inside. Preservation Maryland has entered a corporate partnership with Indow, a West Coast-based manufacturer of custom interior storm windows. If you are interested in learning more, please use this form, so that small portion of any future expenses will also support historic preservation in Maryland.

[NICK] It’s interesting that you say common sense.

[NAKITA] Not common practice, but common sense.

[NICK] Not common practice, but common sense. And, really, it’s almost like when you say that architects needed to remember to design with nature in mind and that that makes buildings better. I mean, homeowners and property owners also just need to think about common sense things. Like you say, if all the holes around your windows or doors were all in one space, I mean, of course, you would fix that. But I guess it’s sort of out of sight, out of mind. It’s easy for people to forget. But those are sort of the little changes. But it sounds like even in your architecture practice where – I think in a lot of people’s minds, they think of architects taking on these big challenging projects and – just sort of vastly complex, and it seems like a lot of the things that you’re doing when it comes to at least this aspect of it and sustainability is making recommendations that maybe are pretty common and mundane but can make a big difference.

[NAKITA] Right, and then in terms of like when we actually to renovating projects or doing additions on buildings or things like that, and then that’s where we’re getting into, “Okay, well, how are we citing the addition, and then what kind of insulation are we putting in the walls, what kind of products are we using?” We’re making sure that we’re using products that have low- or no-volatile or organic compounds, or VOCs, making sure that products are produced sustainably. And so that could be, sustainably, could be, do they contain post or pre-consumer recycled content? Are they manufactured within, I guess for LEED Version 4, are they manufactured in a hundred miles of the project site. And just to that way, we’re not using so much energy or fuel to transport the materials from where they are sourced and manufactured to the project site to be installed. So just taking in account all of those different things. Are we making sure we’re using LED lights where possible since they use substantially less wattage in electricity than fluorescent tubes? And I know incandescents [incandescent light bulbs] are no longer allowed in commercial, or in most parts, residential which, in a sense, is great because incandescent lights are much better heaters, and they are efficiently producing light.

[NICK] Right. So you really take all of that into account when you’re kind of working on a project like this?

[NAKITA] Yes.

TECHNOLOGY IN THE PRACTICE OF PRESERVATION ARCHITECTURE

Nakita Reed and Nick Redding at a reception for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, 2016.

[NICK] So how much have you seen the technology associated with all of these change even in your career, interest in full disclosure, you are, I would say, a young professional, is that a good way to characterize you?

[NAKITA] Fair enough.

[NICK] Okay, you can still claim that?

[NAKITA] Yeah. That’s good. When I talk to 25-year-olds, no, but when I talk to 40-year-olds, yes [laughter].

[NICK] So you haven’t had – I mean, you haven’t been at this for 40 years, but you’ve been at it long enough. Have you seen a lot of changes in the technology associated with some of these things becoming more prevalent, or a big shift already?

[NAKITA] Absolutely. And I think the biggest one, or maybe the more noticeable one for me, would be LED lights. Because when I came out of UVA in 2006, their LEDs were very much like, “Oh, that’s weird. What’s that? That’s a new technology but it’s too sterile. The light’s very blue and it’s too expensive. No one’s really using it.” It was much more of a specialized seen as more of a rich person elite thing. Whereas now, it’s a standard.

[NICK] Yeah, I just picked up six LEDs for my historic property just to replace the old incandescents, and I bought six of them for $9, I think.

[NAKITA] Yeah, exactly. Like the [price] has come down kind of like when VCRs first came out, they’re something like $2,000, and then before they kind of went extinct, you could get them maybe for like 20 bucks. I feel like the time that technology, particularly with LED and lighting, has changed has been noticeable. I guess, full disclosure, I did work at a LED lighting company for a little bit before starting at AECOM. So that was kind of fun. So it’s, I would say, that and also the market has changed a bit. Before, it used to be  sustainability. At least, this is my perception, whether or not it’s everyone’s perception – whatever. But when I was coming out of school I felt that people were thinking sustainability was kind of a hippy thing and, “Oh, it doesn’t need to be sustainable. It doesn’t matter.” But now it’s everyone it seems is understanding the value of it, or at least economics of it.

A SHIFT TO SUSTAINABILITY

[NICK] Right, I would say that, yeah, I think for a lot of people, sustainability is synonymous with economic efficiency or affordability even.

[NAKITA] Right, and I think that was a big shift that needed to happen, because unfortunately, markets don’t change unless there is an economic impetus and a demand for it. So saying, “Hey, it’s good to be sustainable for the planet,” doesn’t really get people to move their feet as much as, “Hey, this will save you X amount of dollars over this amount of time, and this is why you should do it.” So really changing the conversation from a, “Hey, it’s a feel good, let’s save the planet,” to, “Hey, this makes economic sense as well,” and making that more of the reason to go sustainable, I think helped shift the conversation, and helped get more stakeholders involved. And it really has been a market transformation in terms of what manufacturers are producing.

And even with LEED v4, one of the big, big changes was that now you get extra points for using materials that come from manufacturers who put out HPDs, which are Health Product Declarations, or EPDs, which are Environmental Product Declarations. So now you get points for working with manufacturers who are actually saying what is in their product, making sure that it’s third-party certified, and letting you know how their products are going to affect the health of the people that are using them. So there’s been much more of a shift back on the manufacturers to hold them more responsible for producing products in a sustainable manner, which I think has been great.

USING SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS

Solar panels on a historic flat roof. Photo by Maryland Historical Trust.

[NICK] Yeah. No, it definitely seems like a positive advancement. So we’ve been talking a lot about sustainability and technology and some of the more common sense components of it, swapping out light bulbs and insulating. And then you said, of course, when you are talking about an addition to a historic structure, making sure that you’re using the beat materials you can and understanding all of that. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the more controversial technological and sustainability-type pieces or components that could be brought into the historic environment. One that comes to mind, solar panels.

[NAKITA] Right. And so, right, I would say –

[NICK] And I mean, do you have a lot of experience with that? I mean, because that’s something that you know there are a lot of different opinions, particularly within the historic preservation community and within historic districts, about solar panels.

[NAKITA] Right, and I would say solar panels, green roofs, and to some extent, small wind turbines, those are all things that come into play, in particular, for historic communities. And I know that at Preservation Maryland, we’re starting to have this conversation with other state agencies –  how do we blend meeting and recognizing that renewable energy technology is here and it’s coming. And then how do we also make sure that we are not sacrificing our historic [inaudible] in our historic districts or character. And basically, how do we integrate the two? And so within historic properties, so let’s see. When I first started, I remember one project we were working on in Bladensburg where there’s this really great solar product that was out, where basically, it was a rollable solar panel that you could put in-between the seams of a standing seam metal roof.

[NICK] Oh, wow.

[NAKITA] But the historic commission said no. Because they’re like, no, it’s going to change the character of the building. And so we didn’t move forward with that technology on that project. And so one of the things that has been a little bit contentious is when and where can you use them? And we’ve had some success in other projects where as long as the technology is out of sight and is not having a visual impact on the character of the structure, then it’s okay.

[NICK] Right, like a roof on the backside of a building or something.

[NAKITA] Exactly, and so a lot of the projects that we work on where we’re trying to use solar panels, we end up having to do sections through the building and showing, okay, this is someone standing on the street looking up at the roof, and showing the sight lines just to prove that if we put a solar panel on this roof, no one will be able to see it from the street. And it’s not going to impact the character. It’s out of sight, out of mind.

[NICK] Well, and it’s also interesting, and I’m sure you’ve seen them. They sort of floated around social media, but the solar panels that the Tesla company has put together, which actually mimic or replace.

[NAKITA] Yes, Tesla, yes.

[NICK] And the one that seemed the best to me just seeing it on a computer – I didn’t get to hold it yet – but is the replacement for slate, where it really almost – I mean, it’s hard to tell the difference between the solar panel and slate itself. And I know there was a flurry of emails between myself and other preservationists in Maryland saying, this is something that our community is going to have to come to grasps with.

[NAKITA] Absolutely.

[NICK] Are we going to be okay with this? Does this change the nature, the feature, the identity of these historic structures? And even if it does, it something we’re willing to be okay with, because there are other issues at play here. We can’t just kind of do preservation in a bubble and pretend that the rest of the world doesn’t exist out there.

[NAKITA] Exactly, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m excited about preservation.

And so I got into preservation because, to me, architecture and preservation don’t exist separately. It’s the same way I can’t choose if I am more black or more female. I’m not more of a preservationist or more of an architect. They are interchangeable to me.

And just like the solar panel conversation, one of the reasons why so many house museums went by the wayside is because we realized that preserving something for what is was, as opposed to focusing on what it is and what it could be, is not a sustainable practice because tastes change. No one wants to just keep going to the same old house museum. It has to be functional for the stewards today.

And so preservation, getting involved in the sustainable conversation is fantastic because we need to be there. We need to have a seat at the table to make sure that we’re not going to, one, lose our historic resources but then to also make sure that we remind people, “Hey, it’s reduce, reuse, then recycle.” In that order.

So I think it’s good that we’re in the conversation but I’m also curious to see how this will go. And that’s one of the questions that I’ve been kind of struggling with. And so I know the park service and one of the Secretary of Interior Standards, particularly about recreation, at what point do we draw the line between, “Okay. Well, we know what was there and so we’re going to reconstruct something.” And the case of the slate roof and replacing potentially with the Tesla glass tiles, is it okay if it still kind of mimics what was there but actually produces more electricity, is more sustainable for the homeowner and doesn’t detract from the historic character? So I think that will be an interesting conversation going forward.

Sustainability diagram by the Technical Preservation Services department of the National Park Service.

[NICK] Well, yeah. And I also think – and I know you probably bump up against this all the time and probably increasingly so – that the Standards – which, I guess, in the interest of full disclosure, the National Park Service is a grant-funder of this podcast. But the question is, “Do the Secretary of the Interior Standards – do they still reflect what preservation needs to be today? And also, are they flexible enough to handle the new types of buildings which are now historic?” I’ve heard from some preservationists, particularly in places with high concentrations of mid-century modern architecture, you think  like a Phoenix or something like that, or a Miami. There they’re dealing with the issue where in some cases you literally can not get a replacement of the type of material that was used at the time. So there’s no way to get the type of aluminum sash or whatever it might be. No one is making it anymore. It’s not something you can make by hand. It’s not like a wood balustrade or some decorative gingerbread. It’s a very different type of material. So are they able to sort of adapt to that sense of changing technology? I don’t know if you’ve seen that or bumped up against that yourself.

[NAKITA] A little bit. One of the other preservation organizations I’m a part of is APT DC, which is the DC Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology [International]. At one of our mid century modern symposiums maybe two or three years ago, we were having that exact conversation with someone from GSA [General Services Administration] and also the Park Service and talking about the Standards. So at that time the conversation was more of the Park Service. The Department of the Interior have been looking at the Standards and they’ll continue doing so but at that time they didn’t feel that there needed to be any change to them. It will be interesting to see how that continues to evolve in the coming years, particularly because preservation exists on a sliding scale. So technically 50 years from the date. 50 years ago from the current date is eligible. So I think it will be interesting how technology continues to evolve, and how we start also getting into the conversation of, okay, well, what actually needs to be preserved.

[NICK] Right. We were having that very conversation in this office this morning, and we were talking about the potential for getting involved in a project that was looking to impact 1960s and 1970s resources. And we were sort of trying to debate, whether or not, is that something a preservation group in 2016 should be involved in. And then we were saying, well, in 10 years, we would kind of probably look back at this conversation and laugh because some of those resources absolutely would be historic. But then you do have that question where it’s not everything built in 1973 is going to be historic nor worth saving.

[NAKITA] Exactly.

[NICK] And where do you draw the line? What is worthy of saving? And it’s going to create a lot of challenges and, also, challenges that perhaps the preservation community hasn’t felt before. Because even though it is on that sliding scale, for most of preservation’s history, we haven’t been preserving things that preservationists have lived through. And so now, all of a sudden, a preservationist who grew up in this 1970s ranch is being told that that ranch is now historic. And so that sort of sets up a different kind of discussion, and it really changes conversations. So that is going to be exceptionally challenging, and how the Standards adjust and adapt to meet that moment will be interesting. I feel like it’s going to be something that has to happen.

So, as we kind of draw to the conclusion here, if a homeowner or a commercial property for that matter, is interested in taking on a project to perhaps make their home more sustainable. And they have an older, historic home, and they’re thinking about doing a project. Do you have any just sort of ground rules, advice, as they consider doing something like this? Would you encourage them to seek out the assistance of an architect?

[NAKITA] So I would say before you even did an architect, I would start with a energy audit. And a lot of utilities, I guess – well, a lot of them – a lot of the credits were ending kind of towards the end of 2016. And depending upon the incoming Administration, they may or may not be extended for energy audit. But there are a lot of companies that will come and do an energy audit of your home to at least give you a full assessment. “Okay, well, how much insulation is in your roof? What is the blower door test numbers?

They’ll do even thermographic imaging and taking some pictures inside your house to show you where some things are leaking, what areas are colder. So I’d say even before starting with an architect, start there. Because one of the things – and I love my architects and I am one, but architects like to design. And so if you don’t have a sense of what you have and if you’re going to an architect who doesn’t have any historic preservation background, they may not understand the holistic nature of the building. There are some times – and we’ve come across this with kind of all professionals. Everyone gets very focused in their own silo, and they are comfortable doing what they do. But for instance, we’ve had one project where we had a structural engineer who wasn’t familiar with historic buildings come out and do an assessment. And they’re like, “Oh, it needs to condemned. It’s not safe is no. But really it was that structural engineer was not familiar with historic timber sizes and all that stuff. So once we had a structural engineer who knew historic preservation and had done historic assessments come out and look at the building, we got a more accurate assessment.

[NICK] Right. So just like matching the correct mortar to a historic brick, make sure you match the correct engineer to your historic building.

[NAKITA] Exactly. Yes.

[NICK] You don’t want to use a Portland Cement engineer on your historic building.

[NAKITA] Please don’t. Because the brick won’t be there. The mortar might be there, but the brick’s going to be gone.

So I would say start with an energy audit. And then after that, look for a design professional who has familiarity with historic structures and someone who also has the same kind of aesthetics that you’re looking for. Have a sense of what you’re looking to do. So is it a, “We want to relocate the kitchen“, “We want to do an extension out the back“, “We want to do a second-floor addition on the top“? So just have a sense of what you want, and then the design professional will be able to hear you and then give you what you need. Sometimes we have clients who come to us who tell us what they want, but we were able to design it in a way that is different than what they were thinking. Because sometimes people say, “Hey, I just want this to feel spacious.” But that could be lots and lots of things.

[NICK] Absolutely. And if someone wants to get in touch with you in particular, how would they find you?

[NAKITA] Absolutely. So we have our website, which is encore, S as in sustainable, design dot com. So encoresdesign.com, or they can email me at Nakita, N-A-K-I-T-A, @encoresdesign.com. And so it’s Nakita with an A, not the Russian way [laughter].

NAKITA’S PICKS

[NICK] Okay. Sounds good. And we’ve been asking everybody who comes on, or almost everyone, who comes on the podcast, sort of a fun question at the end. And since you’re an architect, we’ll stick with the architecture question. If you could pick out your favorite building in Maryland, what would it be? And it’s a tough question.

[NAKITA] I would have to say my two favorite ones – I’m going to take some liberty on this question – so it would be the Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis and then also Fort Washington, the actual fort on the Potomac River.

[NICK] The actual fort. And I presume, though, the actual fort, probably not terribly sustainable, probably a lot of energy loss in that building.

[NAKITA] Probably.

[NICK] Maybe you could help them out there.

[NAKITA] I’ll see what I can do [laughter].

[NICK] Well, we really appreciated having you join us today. We’re very well-served as an organization to have you as our Vice President. And we appreciate not only you joining us today but all of the good work that you’re doing to save historic buildings and also make them a little bit greener. So thank you for being with us today, Nakita.

[NAKITA] No problem. Thanks for having me.

CREDITS

You don’t need to open a history book to find us, and available online from iTunes Store and the Google Play Store, as well as our website, presmd.org. This is PreserveCast.

This podcast was developed under a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a unit of the National Park Service. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Milestones Heritage Area and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the National Park Service or the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.

This week’s episode was produced and engineered by Ben and Stephen Israel. Our Executive Producer is Aaron Marcavitch from Maryland Milestones Heritage Area.

Our theme music is performed by the band Pretty Gritty. You can learn more about them at their website, prettygrittymusic.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @pg_prettygritty.

To learn more about Preservation Maryland or this week’s guest, visit preservationmaryland.org. While there, you can check out our blog and learn about what’s current in historic preservation. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter @preservationmd. And of course, a very special thank you to our listeners.

Keep preserving!

Preservation Maryland

Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

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