Sustainable Preservation Strategies

Barba + Wheelock Architecture, Preservation + Design is a leader in the Sustainable Preservation movement.  We view all projects through a lens of sustainability.  For historic properties we strive to wed new technology with time-honored construction techniques, carefully weighing the benefits and risks.  We recommend strategies, sometimes involving an inter-disciplinary team, to determine the most effective solutions for your project.

A significant portion of the built environment in the United States is more than 50 years old, much of it well-built and rich with character.  The real issue facing us is how to preserve, reuse and appropriately update these structures.

By reusing an existing building, there is far less energy consumed than building new. In addition, there are fewer materials extracted and transported to a manufacturer.  In addition, the amount of landfill created by waste is decreased exponentially. Sustainability is also about healthy living.  When making choices for materials, finishes, and even light bulbs there are always choices that keep toxins out of your living and work environments.

Sustainable Preservation strategies we employ may include:

  • Preparing an energy audit to identify areas of unwanted air infiltration in the building envelope and specify methods for sealing affected areas;
  • Examining the property for evidence of climate responsive elements from the original construction that have, over the years, been compromised or removed. Examples may include: gravity ventilation systems, exterior and interior shutters, porches, awnings and overhangs, strategically placed deciduous trees and natural ventilation (both cross and stack effect);
  • Improving the mechanical and electrical systems performance as often this can be readily achieved without affecting historic character. Develop Energy Modeling early in the project to guide design decisions;’
  • Investigating the building envelope to determine current insulation performance and opportunities for improvement.