2015 Section 3 Report

February 15, 2015
2015 Section 3 Report cover


Executive Summary

This is the fourth triennial report to the President, required under Executive Order (EO) No. 13287, “Preserve America,” addressing the state of the federal government’s historic properties and their contribution to local economic development. EO 13287 reinforces the role of federal agencies as stewards of historic properties under their ownership and underscores the importance of federal agency efforts to inventory, protect, and use these properties. The EO emphasizes that historic properties are valuable assets to support agency missions, and federal investment in them may stimulate local economic development.

Information in this report is derived primarily from the federal agency progress reports submitted to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and the Secretary of the Interior in September 2014. Agency reports focused on progress made in identifying, protecting, and using historic properties in federal ownership. Federal agencies continue to provide creative examples of historic properties adaptively reused and rehabilitated to be energy efficient and sustainable, as well as historic properties leased or disposed to parties responsible for their preservation. The ACHP is pleased to report that 21 federal agencies submitted reports on or soon after the September 30, 2014, deadline. In addition to the review of the agency progress reports, the findings and recommendations are also informed by the ACHP’s extensive interaction with federal agencies and preservation partners on various initiatives over the last three years.

In assessing the progress federal agencies have made in the last three years, the ACHP made four key findings about the current state of federal historic property stewardship:

  1.  Integrating historic property stewardship in federal agency strategic planning for the consolidation and realignment of real property portfolios improves historic preservation outcomes.
  2. Agencies would benefit from examples of creative solutions developed for “green design” rehabilitation projects of federal historic buildings and structures.
  3. Systemic efforts by federal agencies to identify and prepare for the threats of climate change and to maximize the resilience of historic properties are important stewardship responsibilities.
  4.  Agency-wide historic preservation policies and leadership commitment to their implementation create a culture of stewardship, facilitate the allocation of resources to meet responsibilities, and improve preservation outcomes.

The ACHP will work to address these findings through its assistance to federal agencies in the Section 106 review process and other daily business and also by implementing specific commitments, including the following:

  • Continue to provide guidance and success stories demonstrating how highly technical and scientific historic properties are adaptively reused by federal agencies.
  • Work with the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ’s) Steering Committee on Federal Sustainability and collaborate with the General Services Administration (GSA) and the National Park Service (NPS) (specifically, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training) to collect stories of successful green rehabilitation of historic buildings and structures of all sizes and share them with federal agencies.
  • Advocate through its participation in the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, other related initiatives, and daily activities regarding federal historic property stewardship that policy and planning for climate change preparedness and resilience adequately address preservation of America’s irreplaceable historic properties.
  •  Encourage other federal agencies to build a preservation program more inclusive of the diverse communities and cultures of the nation.

In addition, other federal agencies and non-federal partners should implement applicable recommended actions in this report to further current Administration initiatives and policies, the goals of EO 13287, and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) related to real property management. These recommended actions include the following:

  • Federal agencies should request adequate funding to identify historic properties on federal land to meet the requirements of Section 110 of the NHPA.
  • The Administration should continue its support for and Congress should appropriate funding for a national inventory of historic properties to create efficiencies in infrastructure permitting and review and to improve environmental outcomes both on and off federal land (In FY 2015 Administration Budget; See also Budget Data Request No. 13-32: Infrastructure Permitting (2013)).
  •  Federal agencies should ensure complete and accurate historic property inventory data is collected and considered before real property consolidation decisions are made, including the decision to leave a historic property unused.
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with GSA, the ACHP, and other affected agencies, should consider changes to the “Freeze the Footprint” offset guidance to increase flexibility for long-term, self-supporting Section 111 and Section 412 leases of historic properties to non-federal parties.
  • Federal agencies planning and designing energy efficient and sustainable buildings and structures, including those seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, should acknowledge the durability of historic buildings, materials, and systems and consider reusing historic properties when feasible.
  • » The Administration should direct federal agencies to review their existing Climate Change and Adaption Plans to identify threats to historic properties and incorporate strategies to protect those properties and to maximize their resilience.

The ACHP is committed to assisting federal agencies in implementing these recommendations so that future actions proposed by the Administration, departments, and agencies recognize historic properties as important public assets by giving appropriate consideration when planning for and implementing federal real property management strategies that address energy efficiency, sustainability, and climate change.