As our society becomes more focused on energy conservation and green building techniques, the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings will continue to play an important role. Why? Because reusing existing buildings, materials and infrastructure is more environmentally friendly and often more economical than new construction. The practice of tearing down the old in favor of the new not only ignores the energy and labor originally expended to manufacture materials and construct buildings, it also creates an enormous amount of demolition and construction debris that ends up in our landfills. Conserving useful materials is a more positive approach that reduces the amount of new products that need to be manufactured and ultimately minimizes waste. Think of it as recycling on a very large scale.
Conservation is a fundamental tenet of historic preservation and is evident throughout all aspects of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home rehabilitation project. During the initial planning sessions for the project, the staff here at Historic Columbia Foundation made a conscious decision to place a high priority on the conservation of historic materials. We wanted the building to be a physical record of the time period in which it was built and reflect the details and craftsmanship of a bygone era.
One of the easiest ways to implement this philosophy was to retain and repair the building’s historic wood windows. Many rehabilitation projects across the country have unfortunately traded their historic wood windows for vinyl replacement units for the sake of energy conservation; however, we were confident that restoring our windows would help preserve the architectural integrity of the Woodrow Wilson Family Home while also being a more sustainable and energy efficient solution. (more…)