The Window Wars: preservationists must educate + advocate + demonstrate
by Ron Emrich, PNJ Executive Director
Weatherization is the hot “green” topic these days, and policy makers, including President Obama and many others, are touting the job creation benefits of heavily promoting installation of new energy-saving products such as new windows, and discarding the old. For us preservationists, discussion of weatherization – which we definitely want to promote – unfortunately includes having to debunk myths and undo the public’s advertising-fueled false assumptions. While former Oregon gubernatorial candidate and replacement window company executive Ron Saxton participated recently in a White House forum on “green jobs” creation, we have to work ever harder to persuade NPR, the U.S. Department of Energy and even Al Gore that actually the most economically and environmentally responsible way to weatherize a building probably includes retaining the existing windows. Good grief, there’s even an online video game promoting green buildings that starts out by awarding points for ripping out existing windows and replacing them! (Don’t play this game, BTW.)
The result of all this promotion, advertising – and bunk – is that too many older and historic buildings and their original windows are at risk, folks will waste money that they’ll never see a payback from, and landfills will just be filled even faster.
As the National Trust for Historic Preservation said recently: “Preservationists will have to continue to explain, and to demonstrate, that being “green” and stimulating the economy through job growth does not have to translate into a national policy supporting and providing incentives for the removal of windows. Preservationists have a huge stake in this discussion with a lot to gain and to lose.”
Join PNJ at our Annual Membership Meeting on Sat. Jan. 30 at St. Peter the Apostle Church in New Brunswick, for a lively discussion about these issues, featuring keynote speaker Jennifer Senick, director of the Rutgers Center for Green Building. More info here >>