Texas preservationists were a lucky bunch with the 2010 National Preservation Conference hosted in Austin at the end of October. With thousands of folks passionate about preserving history and the built environment, hundreds of sessions, workshops, tours and special events, there was a lot to get inspired by. So much to learn, so much to share!
One session in particular presented an interesting on-line toolkit designed for historic homeowners in Virginia. The goal of the project was to make the easy connection between historic preservation, sustainability, energy and cost savings for the average historic homeowner. In addition to lots of nuts and bolts information about preservation, incentives and advocacy, the website hosts an interactive “preservation house”. Through drawings and photos of a historic home, you can navigate different touch points and learn about fairly simple maintenance and preservation techniques as well as their energy impact.
Whether you live in Virginia or Texas, or are an owner of a historic or non-historic home, so much of this information is universally applicable. My favorite touch point is “windows” (no. 8 on the interactive house). With so much information about new energy efficient window replacements, I was shocked to learn that according to the U.S. Department of Energy, only 10% of air leakage in homes is attributable to windows. Replacing windows has one of the lowest energy and cost returns on your investment! Knowing that properly maintained historic wood windows have up to a 100-year lifespan (compared to 10-20 years for a new replacement window), and given that historic windows are a major character defining feature of a building, preserving windows is the win-win solution.
The folks in Virgina forged a productive partnership with their regional energy company, Dominion, to develop the website and market it to millions of residential households in Virginia. Talk about marketing power! The website is managed collaboratively by the Tusculum Institute and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.