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Publications > Preservation & Sustainability

Ossipee Mountain Grange

The Ossipee Mountain Grange, now home to Global Action, Local Awareness (G.A.L.A.) serves a new version of its old function as a community gathering space in a rural community.

How is preservation sustainable? How does it save energy?

First, sustainability is about more than energy. Sustainability is about creating a community (and eventually a world) that works, where people live in worthwhile places, in communities that they can connect with, where good jobs and good buildings create places that the next generation can also use. Preservation is about sense of place, but it is also about reusing and recycling buildings and spaces in new, vibrant ways and keeping our communities vital. Reusing buildings saves energy, reduces waste and preserves people's connections to place, which keeps a community's history in a living form. Many historic buildings, having served a purpose for 50 or 100 or 200 years, can be updated, made energy efficient, and made useful for many more years.


Being Green & Historic?
It’s Easy!


1. Know your building. This means knowing its history and character-defining features, and understanding how your building uses energy.

2. Buildings operate as systems; when you change one thing, you alter the system. Careful planning will help you reach your energy objectives, while balancing preservation and efficiency.

3. Repair rather than replace, and if replacement is necessary, replace in kind. When choosing materials, consider how and where they were produced, how they can be maintained and repaired, and how long they will last.

4. Consider the long term. Your historic building has embodied energy, and careful rehabilitation can avoid additional climate impacts. Consider the next 100 years when choosing materials and making changes.

5. Know your resources! We've compiled some links below to get you started.

Here are links to some of the most up-to-date information on preservation and energy efficiency:

How do you learn about your building? Complete an Individual Inventory Form, which requires research about the history as well as careful description of the building. This can be a good basis for planning.

How do you learn about good energy audits and how to use that information? Start with the Field Guide to New Hampshire’s Municipal Buildings & Energy Audit Guidelines Adobe Acrobat -- it focuses on municipal buildings, but the audit information is applicable to all types of buildings.

Though written for Historic District Commissions, this Clean Air-Cool Planet guide Adobe Acrobat to energy efficiency and renewable energy is a valuable resource on how to apply the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation to projects in efficiency or renewables.

The New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning's How To Winterize Your Home gives some basic information on weatherization, all of which are appropriate for historic homes.

The National Park Service Technical Brief #3, Improving Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings has been recently updated to reflect current best practices.

The National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab studies the intersection between sustainability and preservation, looking for solutions to common issues in making historic buildings work for today, particularly in energy efficiency. The lab studies both policy solutions and practical solutions.

The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance holds workshops on weatherization, and the 2013 policy white paper Adobe Acrobat focuses on sustainability within preservation, including energy efficiency.

Check out the embodied energy calculators at the May T. Watts Foundation for helpful information on why preserving can be more sustainable than building new.

This circa 2010 National Trust for Historic Preservation booklet (hosted on the Environmental Protection Agency website), Energy Advice for Owners of Historic and Older Homes Adobe Acrobat is an excellent primer on the energy issues, potential solutions, and challenges that may arise for property owners. It also has an excellent bibliography that includes online assessment tools (energy use, life-cycle analysis), studies, and preservation resources.

This 2008 Historic New England white paper by Sally Zimmerman, “Energy Costs in an Old House: Balancing Preservation and Energy Efficiency” Adobe Acrobat, covers sustainability, embodied energy, wall insulation, heating, and windows in a concise six pages tailored to the New England climate.

Historic windows 101 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This overview from Environmental Building News (December 2013) covers the changes between the 2009 International Energy Conservation code (current code in New Hampshire) and the 2015 update (adoption in NH pending legislative approval as of 2/2016) which do affect historic buildings.

The New Buildings Institute covers the “whys” of the updates to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the International Existing Building Code (IEBC). This site has good information on “outcome-based codes,” which were also studied by the Preservation Green Lab in the Pacific Northwest.

Button Up New Hampshire provides basic information on weatherization. This information series is not preservation-focused, but the majority of the tips do fall in line with preservation best practices.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar program has many tips on energy efficiency. This site is not preservation-focused, so tips must be considered within a preservation mind-set, but this is often the best-available information on energy efficiency in the home, energy-efficient appliances and electronics, and potential federal incentives.

Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol Adobe Acrobat Reader format. You can download a free reader from Adobe.

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