Tom Mayes, a 2013 Rome Prize winner in Historic Preservation from the American Academy in Rome is back in Washington, D.C., these days. But he hasn't stopped thinking and writing about why old places matter. His series of essays about his experiences and research continues here. If you are in Savannah in two weeks for PastForward, The 2014 National Preservation Conference make sure to check out his session on November 13.
Keeping and using old places is one of the most environmentally-sound things a person or community can do—more than building or buying anything new that claims to be “green.” As Carl Elefante, of Quinn-Evans Architects, brilliantly said, “the greenest building is… one that is already built.”1 Yet it’s my perception that society at large doesn’t yet fully acknowledge the “green” values of keeping and reusing existing buildings and communities—in fact, old buildings are often viewed as throwaways and teardowns. Fortunately, a reuse ethic seems to be growing, and the benefits of reusing existing buildings and communities are becoming recognized more widely.
In this post, I hope to summarize some of the key takeaways from the work by the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab, the Urban Land Institute, the Green Building Council, Smart Growth America, and others2 in the hope that it will give people a brief look at the reasons that keeping and reusing old buildings and communities is “green.” But I also want to suggest that old places should themselves be viewed as part of the ecology we hope to sustain.
Here’s my quick summary of the reasons the continued use of old buildings and communities is environmentally sound:... Read More →