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It is yet another great value added to have Ralph DiNola and GBS in our community! The Green Building Council and LEED certification has come a long way from the 1970's "Appropriate Technology" mantra. The point that Mr. DiNola makes about "embodied energy" in historic buildings is a correct point but a little out of context for the issue at hand. I have a poster from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) dated 1980 that speaks to this point. The image is of a construction worker kneeling next to a TNT plunger ready to blow up a high style Queen Anne. The comment is that "Replacing this building would require the consumption of NEW energy equal to 64,334 gallons of gasoline". This is when gas was less than $1.00 a gallon! The embodied energy in old/historic buildings is only dormant and not lost but added to the value of rehabilitation in a green manner. The new LEED standards should be addressing this information and point of view. Two additional brief points, the performance of LEED certified buildings are based on projected energy saving calculations and not monitored building performance after the fact. I believe that the local chapter of the AIA is working on this concern. A nicely written article about this fact can be read by Henry Gifford: “LEED sets the standard for green buildings, but do green buildings actually save any energy?” http://www.energysavingscience.com/

Finally, the NTHP does not set national historic building preservation standards or even consult ob this subject. That is the role of the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. The are the keepers of the Standards and Guidelines for Historic Preservation projects. The NPS is also charged with review and compliance for the federal investment tax credit (ITC) program as is the state SHPO in many if not all cases. There is considerable flexibility in the "Standards" if one knows how to interpret them. A building can be listed on the National Register under at least one of 4 criteria and one of them is architecture which means that a building must have integrity of design, place, setting, workmanship, materials and context to names a few. Paul Falsetto with Calton/Hart will be teaching a class in Historic Preservation and Energy at the UO White Stag Building this spring. Check the UO listing for place and time.

Ralph DiNola


Thanks for the comments. Brian and I talked about a lot of things in our discussion and I did not get to review the story prior to posting. You are correct, the National Park Service is the organization that maintains, promotes and uses the Standards and Guidelines when reviewing projects seeking tax credits or if there are actions that effect properties on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. I worked for the National Park Service for five years and worked on numerous project which utilized the Standards and Guidelines in the Section 106 review process.

I would also point out that there is currently a lot of lively debate about the relative value of accounting for "embodied energy" of existing buildings versus "avoided effects" or "avoided impacts" resulting from building reuse. These are exciting times for the historic preservation community with renewed interest in building reuse. Stay tuned. And thanks again!

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