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For the past several years, NCPTT has been investigating the relationship between sustainability and historic preservation. This work has become even more relevant with the increased interest in energy efficiency and the growth of the state and federal programs that support sustainability. The National Center has convened experts, undertaken research, and developed training that promotes historic preservation as a critical component of sustainable development.

Sustainability and Preservation

In 2008, the National Center began working with the Friends of NCPTT and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) to convene experts to address sustainability and preservation. The group created the Pocantico Proclamation on Sustainability and Historic Preservation, which was followed in 2009 by the “Nashville Challenge” focusing on the impact of increased energy performance requirements, alternative energy sources, and other emerging green building practices on historic buildings. NCPTT is currently developing a sustainability and preservation research agenda for the Sustainability and Preservation Policy Task Force (“Spitfire”), the steering committee that grew out of the Pocantico and Nashville meetings. The National Center is also participating in the sustainable preservation initiatives of the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others. NCPTT is committed to collaborating with a wide variety of partners representing federal, state and local governments, nonprofit, research and educational organizations, among others, to define and develop the role of historic preservation for safeguarding historic resources in a sustainable manner.

Vicky Jacobson providing a tour of the Old Santa Fe Trail Building in Santa Fe, NM during a workshop break.

NCPTT offered Green Preservation: A LEED Technical Review and Exam Preparation Workshop, April 21-23, 2010, to prepare participants to take the LEED Green Associate Exam. This workshop was held in partnership with the Cultural Resources Management Program for the NPS Intermountain Regional Office and took place at their offices in Santa Fe, N.M. The course received excellent reviews by the participants, who have had a very high success rate of passing the exam.

Other sustainability workshops included Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings, held June 16-18, 2010, in New Orleans, Louisiana with the Louisiana and U.S. National Guards, and Envelope Performance Testing, Monitoring and Modeling, held Oct. 6-7, 2010, in Denver, Colorado with the Association for Preservation Technology International.

Envelope Performance Testing, Monitoring and Modeling provided tools to assess energy efficiency and envelop performance of historic materials. The Louisiana Landmarks Society was awarded a PTT Grant for a future workshop entitled “Preservation Reengineering: Finding Green Environmental Management in Vernacular Historic Buildings in a Hot and Humid Climate.” The workshop will discuss removing the existing HVAC systems in the Society’s historic house and determining an appropriate system that is energy efficient and meets the operational needs of the building.

Disaster Preparation

NCPTT is funding the development and testing of a Rapid Documentation Technique that uses geospatially-enabled digital video recording equipment to provide a quick survey tool that can be used for pre- and post- disaster planning and recovery and to document change over time. In collaboration with Barrett Kennedy of Louisiana State University, NCPTT staff presented this project at the Building Resilience Conference in New Orleans on Feb. 26, and at the DOI Conference on the Environment in Portland, Ore., April 26-30, 2010. Working within the Cane River National Heritage Area, NCPTT is using the Rapid Documentation Technique to survey the cultural and natural landscapes. The current work represents the first large-scale application to a rural area. Italian architect Monica Chialvo is working on the project along with NCPTT. Chialvo’s position is funded through a cooperative agreement with the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) International Exchange Program. The National Center is working with US/ICOMOS to expand the exchange to include early and mid-career professionals. NCPTT has also been working with US/ICOMOS to disseminate the organization’s annual International Scientific Symposium proceedings. Interns from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, have digitized and uploaded symposium papers and presentations dating back to 1996. These documents are now available to the public at http://www.scribd.com/usicomos and through a searchable online database located at http://www.usicomos.org/symp/archive/docs

Education and Training

Through an ongoing cooperative agreement, NCPTT has partnered with the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) to offer technical workshops.

Movin’ & Shakin’: Advances in Seismic Retrofit was held Nov. 10-13, 2009, in Los Angeles. Principally developed for structural engineers and technically oriented architects, this two-day workshop showcased the latest practices in seismic engineering.

An Interdisciplinary Approach To Preserving Wood in Historic Structures was held May 23-25, 2010, at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin near Spring Green, Wis., through a partnership with APT and Taliesin Preservation Inc.

Participants use a model to learn about roof load transfer at a workshop held at Taliesin.

Another APT partnership workshop, Nondestructive Evaluation Methods for Historic Structures, is planned for Nov. 5-6, 2010, at the Presidio in San Francisco. A three-day workshop on the preservation of historic iron and steel bridges was held in Lansing, Mich. from March 8-10, 2010, with part of the funding coming through a PTT Grant. Techniques and technologies for restoring historic bridges were discussed during sessions covering electric arc welding, heat straightening, and hot riveting processes, and were attended by a variety of interested trainees, including State Historic Preservation Office and Department of Transportation officials, engineers, general contractors, students, and historic bridge conservators.

Kirk Cordell removing mortar during the hands-on portion of workshop on Natucket.

In partnership with the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute: Nantucket (PI:N), NCPTT offered a one-week workshop on masonry conservation and traditional lime mortars in Nantucket, Mass., from Aug. 2-6, 2010. Participants undertook masonry repairs on an early-19th-century structure associated with Nantucket’s famed whaling industry. This hands-on workshop covered assessment of existing conditions, site preparation, removal of inappropriate mortar, and cleaning and repointing joints. The concept behind this workshop grew out of a visit by NCPTT staff to PI:N in the summer of 2009 to lecture on the National Center’s work and sustainable preservation.

Preservapedia: a Preservation Wiki

NCPTT is sponsoring development of Preservapedia, a wiki-style encyclopedia for preservation professionals. So far interns and staff have generated over 300 articles on topics ranging from linoleum to landscapes. Among many exciting facets of this project, Preservapedia provides a forum where preservationists can share practical experience and exchange information about treatments and their effectiveness. It also aims to serve as a reference database of historic manufacturers, case law, and preservation organizations. As the project moves forward, NCPTT’s Ed FitzGerald will work to publicize the encyclopedia and build an active user base.

Kim Martin recording sample for NCPTT’s “Comparative Study of Commercially Available Paint Removers”.

Lab Research Kim Martin began working with the Architecture & Engineering Program as an intern in June 2010. Martin, a graduate of the Clemson University/College of Charleston preservation program, completed a comparative study of commercially available paint strippers over the summer and is now preparing samples for the next stage of NCPTT’s research on traditional limewash finishes. The additional limewash testing will continue to build on NCPTT’s original study comparing the performance of different types of lime available in the US and evaluating the effect of different numbers of coats on the longevity of the finish.


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