EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation is a third-party green building certification program created specifically for historic buildings in the Southeast. It is designed to evaluate and highlight what is inherently sustainable about historic buildings while providing guidance on appropriate alterations to make them more energy- and water-efficient.
Projects will receive technical guidance from green building and preservation experts helping to achieve customized solutions for more sustainable historic buildings. EarthCraft is specifically intended for historic building projects 50,000 square feet or less. However, all projects may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
One of the most important benefits of rehabilitation is its role in retaining the embodied energy contained in the materials of buildings which are already constructed. This embodied energy represents the energy costs inherent in durable building materials such as brick, concrete, wood, slate, plaster and other materials that have been previously extracted and manufactured, transported to the building site and installed.
“To demolish historic buildings and haul these materials to a landfill is to also throw away all the work that went in to the original construction and shows a lack of recognition of conservation principles,” said Southface’s Bourke Reeve, program manager for EarthCraft.
Yet another advantage of rehabilitating existing buildings is their location. Historic buildings are predominantly located in the older and more centralized areas of cities and communities and are therefore more likely to be adjacent to urban transit systems or are walkable to employment, shopping, entertainment and educational facilities.
“The energy savings represented by the conservation of these walkable neighborhoods is incalculable and often overlooked,” trust President and CEO Mark McDonald said.
In other news, the trust announced the successful completion of its $1.7 million campaign to fund the green rehabilitation and restoration of historic Rhodes Hall, its headquarters. To date the trust has exceeded its goal by more than $120,000.
The first phase of rehabilitation is complete: more efficient HVAC systems have been installed on the main and second floors, more effective insulation systems were placed in the basement and attic, roofs have been inspected and repaired, the enclosed sleeping porch has been restored, the fourth floor tower has been rehabilitated into office space and the original decorative pressed tin ceiling panels on the front and side porches have been restored or replaced in kind.
Currently the trust is restoring Rhodes Hall’s 111 historic wood windows.
Future plans include implementing a grounds use and maintenance plan that considers sustainability, Rhodes Hall’s historic landscape plan and the functional needs of the facility and upgrading bathrooms, the catering kitchen and work stations.
An open house and capital campaign closing celebration at Rhodes Hall is set for June 1 from 3 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Light hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served. Guests will be able to tour the building and talk with the experts who have planned and performed the work. Rhodes Hall is located at 1516 Peachtree St. Built in 1904 for furniture magnate Amos Giles Rhodes and his family, it now serves as the trust’s headquarters.
For more information visit www.earthcraft.org/sustainable-preservation, www.georgiatrust.org or www.rhodeshall.org.