Historic Buildings Energy Efficiency Guide

Available from Clean Air-Cool Planet is a publication created to help historic district commissions and other local organizations and facility managers make historic buildings more energy efficient. Clean Air-Cool Planet is a non-profit, New Hampshire-based organization dedicated solely to finding and promoting solutions to global warming.

This new guide, “Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Historic Preservation: A Guide for Historic District Commissions”, details in 40 pages ways to employ energy efficiency measures and renewable energy without detracting from the historic value of properties. Facilities discussed include community buildings and museums, as well as historic homes.

“A large proportion of the buildings in the U.S. are considered historic, whether they are officially designated or not,” said Anne Stephenson, Ph.D., who oversaw the preparation of the Guide. “Unfortunately, there is a perception that those properties cannot or should not be made energy efficient.

“That’s an ironic attitude, considering that some of our more efficient and climate-wise building practices were common in colonial times,” Stephenson said. “This guide revisits some of the lessons old buildings can teach us and provides a bridge over the perceived divide between preservationists and those concerned with climate and energy issues.”

Contained in the Guide:

  • An introduction to local energy and sustainability committees for historic preservationists
  • Specific ways for preservationists and local energy groups to work together
  • Details about energy efficiency measures that protect historic value of properties
  • Examples of successfully employed renewable energy applications within historic districts
  • Answers to frequently asked questions from building owners and members of local energy committees
  • Resources for further research and information

More than 15% of buildings in the U.S. were built before 1939, and most buildings constructed before 1850 were not designed to be heated or cooled with fossil fuels.

“By finding ways to make our historic buildings more efficient, we also make their preservation, and the preservation of our local history and culture, more possible,” said Clean Air-Cool Planet CEO and President Adam Markham.

The guide was researched and written by Meghan Giuliano and Virginia Way, two of Clean Air-Cool Planet’s 2009 Climate Fellows, over the course of the summer, when Way interned on Nantucket Island and Giuliano was based at Strawbery Banke museum for her research on efficiency and preservation.

Way’s work, “Sustainable Preservation, An addendum to Building with Nantucket in Mind” was formally accepted as part of the Historic District Commission guidelines for Nantucket Island, which is recognized internationally for preservation work. It appears in the CA-CP Guide as an appendix.

The Guide is available for download in the “For Communities” section of the Clean Air-Cool Planet Web site.