Older buildings are threatened with demolition on a daily basis. Buildings are not always torn down because they are dilapidated or beyond repair but because they are considered out of date. So developers tear down the existing urban fabric to build new energy efficient structures with green technology. They do so in the name of sustainability.
Contrary to popular belief the greenest building is one that is already built. Vintage buildings are often energy efficient, though they may lack some modern amenities. Buildings constructed before 1940 were more energy efficient than those built in the next 35 years because they were typically built with climate control in mind, and they do not rely heavily on energy consumptive methods of climate control. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, buildings built before 1920 consume nearly the same amount of energy to buildings constructed after 2000 that took energy efficiency into account.
Demolition of the existing urban environment and building new is not the way to create sustainable cities. Any re-urbanization plan needs to have a preservation component in order for it to be sustainable. Preserving an old building does not lead to the production of more solid waste or energy use from construction. Saving historic buildings contributes to the culture and character of the urban environment. It promotes sustainability through energy efficiency and economics.
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Gromicko, N. (2015). Enhancing Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings. Retrieved from InterNACHI: https://www.nachi.org/energy-efficiency-historic-buildings.htm
Lant, K. (2017). We Just Blew Through Another Climate Change Milestone. Retrieved from futurism.com: https://futurism.com/we-just-blew-through-another-climate-change-milestone/
Murphy, K. D. (2015). When a house is demolished, more than the home is lost. Retrieved from The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/when-a-house-is-demolished-more-than-the-home-is-lost-42579
NPS. (n.d.). Historic preservation is inherently a sustainable practice. Retrieved from National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/tps/sustainability.htm
Prakash, M., & Jones, D. (2017). Cities aren’t using their key tool for climate action: Urban planning. Retrieved from Citiscope: http://citiscope.org/commentary/2017/09/cities-arent-using-their-key-tool-climate-action-urban-planning
Rypkema, D. D. (2005). Economics, Sustainability and Historic Preservation. Retrieved from Preservation Trust of Vermont: http://ptvermont.org/economics-sustainability-and-historic-preservation-by-donovan-d-rypkema/