Historic preservation and green buildings go together nicely. If green buildings are all about sustainability, what could exemplify this value better that reusing an older building, making it suitable for another 50 to 100 years of active use?
In Portland, the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center is a great example of building renovation. Under the leadership of Ecotrust, a regional nonprofit, the ioo-year-old two-story warehouse was transformed into a modern office building. A partial third story was added onto the original build-
ing, and a green roof covers 50% of the roof area. An outdoor deck was added to host local receptions. The first floor contains a retail store, a local coffee house, a pharmacy and a pizzeria. Partly as a result of this project, the surrounding neighborhoods began to sprout high-density residential, retail and restaurant uses. In recognition of its improved energy efficiency, use of recycled content, focus on locally sourced materials and extensive use of certified wood products, the Center became the second LEED Gold-certified project in the US when it was completed in 2001. As a center for environmental education, Ecotrust's conference room is the most frequently booked meeting place of its type in the entire city, hosting hundreds of events each year. Everyone who visits the center can see the value and beauty of building renovation first-hand.
Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places are often good candidates for green building renovations. Such buildings may qualify for 20% federal tax credits, but they come with significant restrictions on renovation activity; while any building more than 70 years old (e.g., built before 1937) can qualify for a tax credit of 10% of expenditures, without such significant restrictions. The first renovated building on the National Register to receive a LEED-NC Platinum rating was the Gerding Theater, also in Portland, which involved the renovation of an 1891 armory building into a performing arts theater.
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