Seattle, National Trust Announce Preservation Green Lab

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe on March 25 announced a new private-sector effort to rehabilitate historic buildings with energy efficient technology.

The new Preservation Green Lab is created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and funded in part with a $50,000 grant from the city of Seattle over two years. The first of its kind in the nation, the Preservation Green Lab partners with selected cities and states to suggest innovative sustainable development policies for existing buildings and neighborhoods. In addition, the lab will also serve as a national clearinghouse for best practices for green rehabilitation.

"Our buildings are our history. We need to preserve our past, but we also need to prepare for the future. By adapting the latest technology, we can renovate our historic buildings without toasting the planet," said Nickels. "We welcome the Preservation Green Lab and look forward to a future of preservation."

"The establishment of this field office will further the goals of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Sustainability Program, which include promoting building reuse, reinvestment in older communities, and the greening of existing buildings to combat climate change," said Moe. "With more than 43 percent of the nation's carbon emissions coming from the operation of buildings, reusing and improving the energy efficiency of older and historic buildings is an essential part of a sustainable future."

The launch of the Preservation Green Lab was held in the Joseph Vance Building, a revitalized 1920s-era, 120,000-square-foot mixed use office/retail building in downtown Seattle near light rail transit. The building has been rehabilitated by Jonathan Rose Companies' Rose Smart Growth Investment Fund I, L.P., the nation's first real estate investment fund focusing on acquiring and greening existing buildings.

It is anticipated that the Vance Building will receive LEED-EB Gold Certification. It combines historic preservation and green building practices and illustrates the connection between sustainable development and historic preservation.

The Preservation Green Lab, located in the Piston & Ring Building, will be headed by Liz Dunn, a former developer.

The reuse of older and historic buildings often creates more jobs than new construction. According to Donovan Rypkema, principal of Place Economics, rehabilitation generally uses about 20 percent more labor and, in turn, produces a greater number of jobs than new construction. Investment in building retrofitting creates demand for electricians, heating/air conditioning installers, carpenters, construction equipment operators, roofers, installation workers, carpenter helpers, construction managers, and building inspectors.

Support for the Preservation Green Lab was made possible by the city of Seattle, the Kresge Foundation, the Bullitt Foundation, the Charles Evans Hughes Foundation, the Goodfellow Fund, 4Culture, and Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Daniels.

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