The ACHP promotes sustainable and resilient communities where historic properties are used as assets for promoting energy efficiency and community livability, and are prepared for climate impacts.
ACHP Climate Change and Historic Preservation Task Force
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. The ACHP has convened a task force of its members to consider policy issues regarding climate change and historic properties and the role that the ACHP can play in addressing such issues.
Task Force members include: Vice Chairman Jordan Tannenbaum (Task Force Chair); Reno Franklin; Rick Gonzalez; Kristopher King; Jay Vogt; National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers; National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; National Trust for Historic Preservation; Department of Defense; Department of Homeland Security; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Department of the Interior; Department of Transportation; Department of Veterans Affairs; and General Services Administration.
Development of Policy Statement
The Task Force has developed a draft ACHP Policy Statement on Climate Change and Historic Preservation, which is now available for public comment. While it addresses federal agency challenges and opportunities, it also speaks broadly to nonfederal parties. The document defines the scope of climate impacts and puts forward a series of recommended policy principles for addressing the issues. Effects to sacred sites and other properties significant to Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations (NHOs) are highlighted, as are the disproportionate impacts of climate change on historic places in underserved communities. Comments on the draft can be sent to email@example.com by May 6, 2023.
Introduction to Climate Change and Historic Preservation
Below under "Related Resources" you will find a collection of links to detailed information on the importance of historic properties to the national conversation on sustainability and climate resilience. Gateway sites on these topics include:
- Preservation and Climate Change (National Trust for Historic Preservation)
- Preservation and Sustainability (National Trust for Historic Preservation)
- Sustainability (National Park Service)
- Sustainable Historic Preservation (Whole Building Design Guide)
Communities throughout the country are threatened by increasing 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. This includes threats to sacred sites, traditional cultural landscapes, and other sites of religious and cultural importance to Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiians. People are seeking ways to adapt and be more resilient to climate impacts, including impacts to historic properties. Good introductions to this topic include:
- Climate and Culture (National Trust for Historic Preservation)
- National Landmarks At Risk: How Rising Seas, Floods, and Wildfires Are Threatening the United States' Most Cherished Historic Sites (Union of Concerned Scientists)
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. Reusing existing buildings also avoids the embodied carbon emissions inherent in new construction, thus helping to combat climate change. 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:
- The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse (National Trust for Historic Preservation)
- Demonstrating the Environmental & Economic Cost-Benefits of Reusing DoD’s Pre-World War II Buildings (Department of Defense) and the report’s Appendices