Creating a sustainable preservation hybrid in post-Katrina New Orleans
MetadataShow full item record
The two fields of historic preservation and sustainable design include many similar values concerning conservation, yet produce buildings that ultimately look and perform differently. Historic preservation relies on the maintenance of traditional materials to ensure that historic buildings are preserved for future generations. Sustainable design typically works with new construction to create buildings that have little negative impact on the environment. The similarities yet separateness that exist between historic preservation and sustainable design provide a compelling platform to ask how we can combine the two fields within one building project. The combination of these two felds is currently being explored in post-Katrina New Orleans, and I am asking how we can combine historic preservation with aspects of sustainable design to create a sustainable preservation hybrid, or fusion between technological aspects of “green” design with traditional methods of preservation, that will allow historic buildings to maintain their integrity and achieve the values of sustainability. New Orleans provides a great opportunity to examine this question due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing efforts to rebuild the city. One specific area of New Orleans, the historic district of Holy Cross, plays home to two key organizations involved in the rebuilding: the Preservation Resource Center, which preserves the existing historic housing stock, and Global Green, which builds new, sustainable design projects. These two organizations work right down the street from one another, yet have yet to combine their building methods or work together on a shared project. This relationship between Global Green/sustainable design and the Preservation Resource Center/historic preservation provides a good opportunity to examine how elements of new sustainable design can be combined with the traditional methods of preservation in order to achieve a sustainable preservation hybrid. I examine the creation of a sustainable preservation hybrid by conducting a literature review, interviews and site visits, and energy modeling. The literature review reveals that preservationists and architects involved with sustainable design like the idea of creating a hybrid, but still lack a thorough understanding of each other’s tacit values. The interviews reveal how the organizations working in Holy Cross also embrace the idea of a sustainable preservation hybrid, yet remain somewhat lost as to how to actually create such a building. The energy modeling then demonstrates which combination of “green” materials from sustainable design and “traditional” materials from historic preservation combine to create a building that achieves both the values of sustainable design and historic preservation. Whether or not we can combine preservation and sustainable design to make a hybrid poses an original and relevant question in the context of post-Katrina New Orleans and elsewhere. Since we are currently facing an energy crisis, the conclusions as to how we can combine these two fields prove how a single, historic building can simultaneously conserve both environmental and historic resources.