Green Living – Can History and Sustainability Live in Harmony?

With my practice located in San Diego’s Northpark neighborhood, one of the most common objections I hear to the sustainable movement relates to the integration of sustainable features into historic architecture.

I get the impression that a vast majority of the owners of these vintage Craftsman bungalows and late Victorian manses just aren’t aware of the plethora of options available to them.  In a round about kind of way, I can’t blame them for two simple reasons – There are a ton of sustainable options and they’re usually geared to newer homes in more contemporary styles.

Side note: I was talking to a vendor about adding a new window in my bathroom.  He suggested I replace ALL of my 100 year old wood frame casement windows (with their original glass I might add) with all new “state of the art” vinyl windows. I immediately hung up.

Anyway, the whole idea is that sustainability is a viable option for the owners of historic homes as well.  Even better, there are a slew of methods available that do not take away from the aesthetics of the original home, can meet State Department requirements (should your home be on the National Register), and can actually make your historic property more efficient than even new homes built today with Green principals in mind.

As an example, I ran across (via the great Mark Johnson over at Green Builder Magazine) a great example of just how far one can go.  Pay close attention because if you didn’t know this home was a prime example of energy efficiency, you’d have had no clue quite simply because from the outside (and even from the inside) it looks like nothing more than a 110 year old farmhouse.

You know what they say – the greenest house is the one already standing.

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