Getting approval to modify buildings that are historical landmarks in New York City can be tough, even if the change is small. But thanks to green initiatives like PlaNYC, city agencies and other organization are working to change that. As part of an ongoing campaign to preserve historical buildings through green renovation, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has teamed up with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to produce a guide on how to easily improve the energy efficiency of small landmark buildings throughout the city.
The guide is a straightforward approach to improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings, by giving property owners concrete steps to perform proper green renovations, all while preserving the building’s historic character. Specific steps include changing regular incandescent bulbs to CFLs, installing solar panels, and other simple tips to reduce energy usage and save on utility costs. The guide also aims to clarify and promote state and city financial incentive programs and technical assistance for property owners by compiling all available green resources in one place.
“Roughly 55 percent of New York’s building stock is more than 70 years old, and any serious efforts to build a more sustainable city must include solutions for making these older buildings more efficient” said MAS President Vin Cipolla. “With this guide, we will provide clear guidance to property owners and the preservation community on how historic buildings can be part of the solution to fighting climate change and making New York City more sustainable. This isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for the bottom line, too, because it can lead to savings in energy costs.”
Older buildings in NYC, “built before cheap energy and the availability of mechanical systems,” are often times already energy efficient due to certain historically sustainable features. This includes windows designed for natural ventilation, awnings for shade, and cisterns for collecting rainwater. These low tech features, and how to use them effectively, will also be explained in the guide.
Retrofitting and preserving historical buildings is an exciting prospect sure to please history buffs and environmentalists alike. And there’s no doubt that preserving the character of our city while improving its efficiency will benefit everyone.