Greening Landmark Buildings in NYC

“The greenest building is… one that’s already built.”  We have heard this before. It’s often spoken in response to the argument for shiny new buildings with LEED plaques in their lobbies.

For those who advocate the reuse of buildings, especially those of historic significance, there is soon to be a ‘how-to’ guide, sponsored by the Municipal Arts Society of New York (MAS) in collaboration with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). “Greening New York City’s Landmarks: A Guide for Property Owners” is being developed by architecture firm Cook+Fox and environmental consultants Terrapin Bright Green.

Empire State Building, Photo by Ryan Cunningham

Anticipated for next fall, the guide hopes to remake the somewhat arduous ‘greening’ process, often blamed on LPC regulations. MAS hopes to change that.
“[The guide] will provide straightforward action steps on how to improve the energy efficiency and sustainability of the city’s landmark buildings while meeting preservation standards.” –MAS Announcement
Ultimately this is great for New York City. We have a massive stock of landmark buildings, and  the guide will make it easier for developers of older buildings to find cost effective ways to reduce their property’s energy footprint without compromising the historic features of a building.
“With this guide, we will provide clear guidance to property owners and the preservation community on how historic buildings can be part of the solution to fighting climate change and making New York City more sustainable. This isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for the bottom line too because it can lead to savings in energy costs.” –MAS President Vin Cipolla
The guide is a milestones of the PlaNYC 2030 update, and not only helps the city towards the mayor’s agenda on sustainability and climate change, but it is also part of MAS’s ongoing Preservation and Climate Change Campaign.
“In 2008, 75% of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions resulted from energy used in the construction and operation of buildings. New York City’s old and historic buildings provide a vast opportunity for energy savings that can make a remarkable contribution toward the mitigation of climate change.” –MAS
And who knows, perhaps the guide will make it so easy to save energy and money, so the saying “the greenest building is… one that’s already built” may pass from preservationists and become a motto for developers.

Categories: Preservation, Sustainability