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Sustainability and Historic Preservation

Image: Venn Diagram, captioned "Sustainability is the nexus of society, the environment, and the economy."

The ACHP supports the work of communities to create sustainable and resilient communities where historic properties are used as assets for promoting energy efficiency and community livability, and are protected from climate impacts. The ACHP is working to help ensure that the federal government addresses historic properties as it creates and implements sustainability and climate resilience policies and programs. This web site includes a collection of links to information on the importance of historic properties to the national conversation on sustainability and climate adaptation. Gateway sites on these topics include:


When it comes to historic buildings, in most cases the “greenest” building is the one already built. Preserving historic buildings almost always offers environmental and energy savings over demolition and new construction. Reinvestment in historic districts and communities also promotes reuse of existing infrastructure and supports areas that generally are walkable and have good transit access options. The result? Energy savings and enhanced community livability. Supporting cost-benefit analyses include:


Many communities increasingly are threatened by climate impacts, such as storm damage, flooding, coastal erosion, drought and associated wildfires, melting permafrost, and changing temperature patterns. Climate-related destruction undermines sense of place and community identity, in part through damage to historic properties. Communities are seeking ways to adapt and be more resilient to climate impacts, including impacts to historic properties. Good introductions to this topic include:


For more information on all of the above topics, visit our sustainability links page.

The ACHP’s publication Sustainability and Historic Federal Buildingsprovides guidance to federal agencies on integrating federal agency sustainability requirements with their responsibilities as stewards of the historic properties they manage. How well they are striking that balance is among the issues that agencies report on every three years under Section 3 of Executive Order 13287.  Agencies must report on their progress in the identification, protection, and use of historic properties in federal ownership and make this report also available to the ACHP and the Secretary of the Interior. The ACHP then incorporates that information into a report on the state of the federal government’s historic properties and their contribution to local economic development that is submitted to the President. To review these reports and the information they contain about sustainability, click here.

The ACHP also is working with federal agencies to address the potential impacts to historic properties from projects to expand the development and transmission of energy resources. Click here to learn more.

Updated February 9, 2017

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