National Forum for Preservation Commissions talks “green”
Just came back from the bi-annual FORUM of the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (NAPC), this year held in New Orleans. More than 450 commission members and staffers convened for an informative, interactive 3 days of discussion, learning and sharing.
New Orleans was the perfect place for this terrific gathering. We know all preservation is local, and we saw first hand how each neighborhood, each block and each historic household in the Big Easy is fighting hard to recover and reinvigorate! A local preservationist really summarized how Hurricane Katrina has touched everyone in Louisiana – and how the storm and its aftermath should affect the rest of us: when you see how your neighbor has lost everything that they hold dear, there is a new realization that the same could happen to any of us and we need to cherish and protect our homes, neighborhoods and communities,.
Among several of the informative sessions at the FORUM topics of sustainability and “green preservation” were hot issues. Roundtable discussions about “substitute materials” that preservation commissions are seeing in permit proposals explored photovoltaic (solar) panels, replacement windows and other materials. Commission responses to these proposals for contemporary materials vary widely across the country, and the roundtable session results will be published by NAPC as an evaluation methodology that commissions can use to make consistent and defensible decisions.
Luncheon keynote speaker Carl Elefante, AIA, LEED (who was also a key presenter at the NJ Preservation Conference in June) spoke about the relationship between green building design principles and historic preservation.
FORUM participants also had the chance to tour many of the historic districts in New Orleans, many of which of course were severely damaged by the storm and flooding. The three preservation commissions in the city (Vieux Carre, CBD and Historic Districts Commission) are working overtime, with still reduced staff, to help homeowners get their houses restored and reoccupied. It’s inspiring, shocking and hopeful all at once.
We’ll publish links to the NAPC website when FORUM findings and reports are posted over the coming months.