Posted by: wadahp | April 25, 2011


The National Park Service (NPS) rolled out a set of richly illustrated guidelines to help improve the energy efficiency of historic buildings while preserving their historic character.

The Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings offer practical advice to building owners, developers, and preservation practitioners, showing recommended – and not recommended –approaches to projects from solar panel installation to heating and air conditioning upgrades to weatherization and insulation.

The Earth Day announcement by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said the guidelines would advance the growing trend of “greening” historic buildings.  “While historic buildings are inherently sustainable because they already exist, by adding energy saving features like cool roofs and solar technology we can bring these icons of our past into efficient twenty-first century use.” He also noted that waterless toilets, recycled pop bottle carpets, and compact fluorescent lights are just the latest components of green building.   “Remember front porches and shutters? Those were specific designs that save energy.”

Jarvis said that more and more developers think “sustainability” when they consider historic preservation projects today. “It makes sense from a couple of perspectives,” Jarvis said. “Historic preservation projects generally have a lighter carbon footprint.  They also make great economic sense when a project qualifies for the National Park Service’s program that confers a 20 percent federal tax credit for historic rehab projects. ”

The National Park Service’s Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program incentivizes more than $4 billion in private investment in historic preservation annually.  To be eligible for the tax credits, construction projects must comply with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  The guidelines issued today are supplementary to the Secretary’s Standards.

The new guidelines were developed with assistance from the preservation community, including other federal agencies, the development community, state and local governments, as well as private individuals.   They are the latest in a series of NPS publications created by its Technical Preservation Services Division that offer usable, how-to advice for historic preservation.

To see NPS-approved tax credit projects state-by-state go to their website and add your state at the end (for example:, click on “List View” and select “Historic Preservation Tax Credit Projects.”

You can also check out these new energy efficiency guidelines for historic buildings here.


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