What amazes me is the area of the city that is actually practicing green technology is for some reason, under attack! This after the city was supposedly nominated to be a green community! You see, if you live in the Newburyport Historic District, or you live in the other parts of the city in an historical home; you are already in a large part “green”.
So, don’t sweat it.
If you practice historic preservation principles, you have nothing to worry about.
You are living in a building that is designed to last. The structure will be standing for 25, 50, 100, 300 years or more if properly maintained. Modern buildings are designed to be replaced in 50 years or less. The materials, perhaps new and shiny at the time of construction, are literally designed to deteriorate. Miles and miles of housing developments are being constructed with press-board (wood chips pressed into plywood boards) and which will fall apart when exposed to water. This is called planned obsolescence and is a very un-green practice widely practiced in today’s world. That is why many products when purchased today do not have the durability that older items possess.
An historic preservationist (HP) doesn’t have to worry if some water gets splashed on the house!
His windows are designed to last for hundreds of years. Anderson Window only warrants for twenty years and most of their competitors have products that may not even survive 7 to 15 years. It is comforting to know that a quick once-over in basic maintenance at B& R glass; is all it takes to keep these windows going. Matched with high-technology storm windows and the typical HP need not be afraid of cold blasts.
The typical HP knows the framework of his historical house is not made from light tropical lumber but from dense, first-growth trees from before the second world war. Even the lighter, Victorian era styles are far better built than today’s. Many newer buildings which are supposed to be solid are already warping after only a decade old.
An historic preservationist doesn’t have to worry about RADON buildup because historical homes are designed to breathe. The natural shrinking and expansion from all weather environments are built into the design.
An historic preservationist insists on putting brick sidewalks in front of the house. Blacktop is petroleum-based, deteriorates quickly in New England weather and hard to dispose of; concrete does not last as long and when it deteriorates is difficult to replace and is unsightly as it piles up in debris fields. Brick sidewalks are designed to last for decades if not centuries. Bricks laid in the late 18th century here in Newburyport are still holding their own. If they lose their cohesiveness, they can be easily picked up, support fill replaced and then re-layed; saving huge amounts of money and not cluttering the environment. They are more permeable to the watershed and are often sealed with plant or silicon material which helps them to blend into the environment. And, according to the IRS, they actually boost the property value by 10 to 15 percent as an added value.
The historic preservationist knows that he is sparing landfills because his entire house is not being dismantled and filling landfills with construction debris. When he restores the interior, he reduces the amount going to landfills. He saves energy by obtaining his supplies from a local supplier like Lunt & Kelly’s or Port Paint & Paper.
Every historical homeowner as well as those HP’s living in non-historical homes; knows that their responsible practices are contributing to the city’s zero-sum energy inventory by preserving their existing buildings and minimizing the renovations in their interior living spaces.
An historic preservationist knows that he is saving tens of thousands of dollars by keeping his house. Once a new house is built, it must follow the costly requirements of Massachusetts 8th version of building codes as well as being at the mercy of the stringent stretch codes. It is a nice feeling to know that he is exempt!
Newburyport is far better positioned to be a true green community because we have a large inventory of valuable, existing historical buildings.
The trick is to make sure the occupants of those buildings practice historic preservation principles.
To do that, we need more historic preservationists!