Friday, April 2, 2010

What is really Sustainability???

Perceptions of Preservation

I was recently a part of Sustainability Symposium at Penn State University. It was a 3 hour long session where we had talks by the Director of Center of Sustainability at Penn, outstanding students who undertook sustainability efforts on campus and a question hour session. You can check them out at

We had long discussions about recycling paper, plastic, cans etc.. on campus, composting, using energy efficient devices, doing little things like switching off lights when going out of the building. It was an interesting session overall.

I was most appalled by the fact that in this long session, there was no mention of preservation at all. It was nowhere on their radar screens. This made me realize that how much work we have to do in this direction. When such significant issue is not a part of a leading research university's agenda, then how can we even take it to local public and create awareness about it.

This makes me ponder what can preservationists do to tell the world that adaptively reusing a historic building is the most sustainable effort. This is sustainability! Does anyone know that just a single family home with an area of 1500 sqft has around 1050000 MBTUs of embodied energy in it? To find more such facts go to

With our 24th Annual Regional Preservation Conference at Palmyra, we are trying to unravel the myths about sustainability. To tell you exactly how reusing an old building is most sustainable. To learn more about it visit us at

We look forward to having you with us on April 24' 2010 in Palmyra. Do join us if you really want to know what is sustainability?

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Posted by Nimisha Thakur, Preservation Associate