Eddie Cazayoux discussing historic design considerations with participants at the Built for the Bayou Environmental Adapations in Design Workshop

 

Rapid environmental changes physically endanger humanity’s cultural legacy, including the historic built environment.  One obvious challenge is the potential loss of coastal land due to rising sea levels. Sea level rise threatens many historic buildings, archaeological sites, and entire cultural landscapes in coastal and riparian areas, including many managed by the National Park Service.

Other threats associated with climate change include potential damage and destruction to cultural resources caused by an increased frequency and intensity of violent storms and wildfires, greater precipitation, and flooding. The loss of species and ecosystems may threaten culturally significant landscapes, including designed and vernacular landscapes and sacred sites, as well as the viability of traditional cultural practices.

 

For the past several years, NCPTT  has been working to understand the potential impact of climate change on cultural resources and conversely, the impact of cultural resources on climate change. Working with a variety of partners, the National Center has promoted historic preservation as an important component of sustainable development. Conservation of our existing built environment includes reusing historic and older buildings, improving their energy and environmental performance, and reinvesting in older and historic communities.

 

In November of 2008, the Friends of NCPTT and the NTHP convened a small group of experts to discuss historic preservation and environmental sustainability. The group affirmed preservation’s important role in sustainability efforts and resolved to face head-on the global ecological crises that threaten both built and natural resources. After two days of intense discussions, the group developed the core of the Pocantico Proclamation on Sustainability and Historic Preservation, which outlines the role of historic preservation in improving the sustainability of the built environment.

 

Following on the success of the Pocantico meeting, the same partners hosted a much larger meeting in October of 2009 focused on energy and environmental issues, particularly the impact of increased energy performance requirements, the use of alternative energy sources, and other emerging green building practices on historic buildings. The meeting was held in Nashville, Tenn., just prior to the NTHP annual conference.  This ongoing effort works to inform the sustainability movement about the role of historic preservation and to improve the long-term stewardship of NPS and other historic resources.

 

LEED has become the industry standard for demonstrating the “sustainability” of new construction and rehabilitation projects. Increasing numbers of NPS and other rehabilitation projects are aspiring to LEED certification.  To help meet the increasing demand for preservationists that are also LEED accredited professionals, NCPTT hosted a LEED New Construction & Major Renovations Exam Preparation Workshop in May 2009 in Natchitoches, La. As a result of this training, several NCPTT staff members have become or are in the process of becoming LEED Accredited Professionals, making NCPTT one of the few organizations within the NPS with staff having both historic building expertise and LEED credentials. NCPTT is working with partners to create and offer a new LEED 3.0 preparation workshop designed specifically for preservation practitioners.

Participants limewashing mausoleum at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans, La. during the Limewash Workshop on June 13, 2009

Participants limewash a mausoleum at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans, La. during the Limewash Workshop on June 13, 2009

NCPTT is committed to continuing to work with a wide variety of partners representing federal, state and local governments, preservation nonprofits, research and educational organizations, and others to develop and define the role of historic preservation in preserving historic resources in a sustainable manner. Based on the experiences of NCPTT and numerous partners, the most critical need in sustainable preservation is to develop and undertake a program of research to scientifically measure the sustainability of historic preservation, and to provide metrics for quantifying the energy efficiency of historic building systems.

 

Through a cooperative agreement, NCPTT again worked with APT to offer a Nondestructive Evaluation Workshop that was held at the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Md., on May 6-7, 2009. The workshop provided guidance in the evaluation and rehabilitation of historic structures. The two-day workshop was attended by 39 engineers, architects, preservation consultants, and NPS and SHPO staff.

NCPTT is also a cosponsor of Movin’ & Shakin’: Advances in Seismic Retrofit, a workshop planned for the APT International’s annual conference in Los Angeles, Nov. 2 – 6.  Principally oriented to structural engineers and technically oriented architects, this two-day workshop showcases the latest practice in seismic engineering. Instruction covers one-story to midrise buildings with a variety of  structural systems, materials and typologies, including adobe, wood, masonry, reinforced concrete, and steel frame.

 

NCPTT in partnership with Save Our Cemeteries, Inc. (SOC) held a Limewash Workshop on June 13, 2009 at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans, La. The workshop included a review of the history of limewash, NCPTT’s Study on the Durability of Traditional and Modified Limewash, and preparation and application of limewash. Participants were given the opportunity to prepare a basic limewash and apply it to a tomb in the cemetery.  There were also given copies of NCPTT’s dvd Preparation and Application of Limewash and an instructional limewash booklet to assist them in applying limewash to projects of their own.

NCPTT joined Tulane School of Architecture, Preservation Trades Network and Save our Cemeteries to host “Cities of the Dead: Above-Ground Cemetery Preservation, Conservation, Documentation Methodology and History,” July 13-31, in New Orleans, La. Topics included appropriate treatments for above-ground tombs focusing on lime-based building technology in plaster, mortar, limewash and masonry applications.  The program also covered architectural history, preservation technology, landscape architecture, funerary iconography and history of New Orleans Cemeteries, and how to navigate through local archives.

NCPTT cosponsored the International Trades Education Symposium that was held in conjunction with the International Preservation Trades Workshops in Leadville, Colo., from August 25 – 28. This symposium provided an opportunity for trades people, educators, preservationists, architects, students and others from the US and abroad to exchange experiences and ideas to help improve preservation trades education.

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One Response to Sustaining Cultural Resources: NCPTT Architecture and Engineering Program 2009 Annual Report

  1. It’s a sad fact that climate change and rising sea levels with threaten our historical heritage. However, even worse for our historical artifacts will be the fiercer storms and destructive weather. Hurricanes, Tornados, and Thunderstorms will further wear at buildings and structures. Long intense period or rains will lead to more mold and rot. I always think of Pompey which has beautiful artwork and painting that is fading every day because it is now exposed to sunlight!

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