Southface and The Georgia Trust have developed the nation’s first green building certification program for historic buildings. EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation (ECSP) is a third-party green building certification program created specifically for historic buildings in the Southeast. The program 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. ECSP is specifically intended for historic building projects sized 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 Sustainable Preservation.
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,” said Mark McDonald, president and CEO of The Georgia Trust.