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Conference Panel Preview: Greening Landmarks


Buildings play an important role in the fight against climate change. Nearly 77% of New York City’s green house gas emissions are related to the construction and operation of buildings. Because of that, improving the efficiency of New York City’s buildings is a primary goal in New York’s sustainability plan, PlaNYC. Given that nearly 55% of New York City’s buildings were built before 1940, improving the efficiency of old buildings is a major part of tackling climate change.

At the Conference on Preservation and Climate Change in NYC, we will explore how to improve the efficiency of historic and landmark buildings. In the panel discussion “Case Studies in High-Performance Preservation Retrofits,” moderated by Judith Saltzman of Li/Saltzman Architects, four speakers will present case studies highlighting the best practices in preservation and energy efficiency.

Stephen Apking, Interior Design Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrillwill discuss the renovation of Chicago’s modernist masterpiece, the Inland Steel Building. Designed by SOM in the 1950’s, the Inland Steel tower is an icon on Chicago’s skyline and a National Historic Landmark. SOM’s project aims to make the office building environmentally and economically sustainable, all while protecting the character of the historic landmark.

Before the EPA moved into Boston’s McCormack Building, one of the finest art deco office buildings in New England, the building underwenta major historic renovation in which all mechanical and electrical components of the original building were removed, but an impressive 99 percent of the original structure was reused. Jean Carroon, a Principal at Goody Clancy, will describe the decision-making process of that renovation, the green features of the retrofit and share analysis of operational data that has been collected since the renovation.

Jeremy R. M. Shannon, the Principal Architect of Prospect Architecture, will discuss the renovation and retrofit of a rowhouse in Brooklyn’s Park Slope Historic District. The work on the landmarked building was done according to Passive House standards, an approach to design and construction that dramatically reduces the energy used to operate a building.

Ground-zero of the green movement in Seattle is the Vance Building, which was awarded the LEED for Existing Buildings (EB) Gold certification. Nathan Taft, Director of Acquisitions at the Jonathan Rose Companies, will discuss the renovation of that landmark building and explain why the renovation and improvement of Class B Office buildings is important nationally. He will also discuss their green affordable housing preservation project in Harlem, on 135th Street. That renovation and retrofit of the ten historic buildings will preserve 198 units of affordable housing and create housing that is more energy efficient, cheaper to operate and healthier for residents.