News Brief

Sustainability in Preservation Gets Its Own Guidebook

The U.S. Interior Department provides illustrated guidelines on energy retrofitting in historic buildings.

The guidelines use illustrated examples of both “recommended” and “not recommended” sustainability upgrades for historic buildings. The photograph above demonstrates how the “not recommended” practice of installing skylights on primary roof elevations damages the historic character of this home.

The Technical Preservation Services office at the U.S. Department of the Interior has given new weight to sustainability in a recent update to the Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. Published in 1992, the guide’s chapter on “Energy Conservation” has been replaced with a separate 26-page guide titled Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. The more extensive review of sensitive energy retrofitting for historic buildings signifies a growing willingness to align the goals of sustainability with those of historic preservation.

The guidelines direct historic building owners on making sustainable improvements without violating The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. While not a manual of codified requirements, it offers specific advice for how to make efficiency improvements without compromising the “historic character” of buildings.

The manual outlines “recommended” and “not recommended” practices on topics from maintenance to the installation of solar technology. Recommended practices include installing cool or green roofs, adding skylights, and installing insulation when appropriate. Illustrations accompany the text to demonstrate real-world examples.

For more information:

Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings

Published June 27, 2013

Pearson, C. (2013, June 27). Sustainability in Preservation Gets Its Own Guidebook. Retrieved from

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.