Sustainability and Historic Preservation: Finding Common Ground
This newsletter explores the complementary nature of ecological sustainability and cultural resource preservation. While the two movements are often seen as being opposed, they share the same goal of conserving resources. In fact, many members of our ASLA Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN) are also members of the Sustainable Design and Development PPN. With increasing governmental initiatives and regulations, both movements must work closely together now more than ever. The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) advocates for the reuse of existing materials, specifically encouraging the preservation of mature trees with "cultural, aesthetic, or historic relevance," but there is still much more opportunity for innovative collaboration.
"Cultural resource preservation intrinsically is a form of sustainable conservation. The built environment represents the embodied energy of past civilizations. Where resources can have a viable continued use, preservation is conservation in every sense of the word."
Guiding Principles for Sustainable Design, NPS Denver Service Center, September, 1993
At the Historic Preservation PPN meeting at the ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo last September in Washington, DC, we discussed topics for this newsletter. The topic of Sustainability and Historic Preservation garnered the most discussion. Following the meeting, Patricia O'Donnell's article, "Restoring Martha Brookes Hutcheson's Water Harvest System," was published in ASLA’s LAND E-News.
Two pertinent conferences with catchy titles were held this spring: For the Greener Good: Historic Preservation Vs. Sustainability? at the National Building Museum, and Keeping Memory Green at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Both conferences were building-centric, however, and there is a strong need to include historic landscape preservation in this dialog, whether it be restoration, rehabilitation, or documentation.
Four case studies that involve sustainability and preservation are presented here. The historic sites vary from a colonial meeting house site in Westport, Connecticut; a nineteenth-century waterpower system in New Lebanon, New York; a curative waters destination in Sulphur, Oklahoma with a long history of use and development; and a preserve with the first LEED platinum building of the National Park Service in Grand Teton National Park. Special thanks go to Carrie Mardorf for once again serving as our newsletter editor.
We invite and encourage everyone to take a look and more importantly share your own green preservation thoughts or experiences via our Historic Preservation PPN LinkedIn site, which can be accessed via the PPN’s homepage at www.asla.org/historic.
With warmest regards,
Chris Stevens, ASLA
Chair, Historic Preservation PPN