Greentopia is back!

The Greentopia fest is back this year as Greentopia | ECOFEST. Running from Saturday, September 15th through Sunday, September 16th, Greentopia | ECOFEST is your one-stop destination for all things green. The same folks are also bringing you other great programs throughout the week, through Greentopia | INNOVATION, Greentopia | FILM, and Greentopia | MUSIC.

So what does preservation have to do with sustainability and Greentopia? Preservation is about reusing our existing resources (whether they be buildings, open space, parks, bridges), reinvesting in our historic neighborhoods (rural villages, urban neighborhoods, and downtown cores), and planning for smart growth. All of these principles are critical components of sustainability. Without using our existing resources creatively and wisely, without attracting people to our more dense and walkable communities, we simply cannot become a sustainable society.

You can learn more about the intersections of preservation, sustainability, and community at many Greentopia events this year. Below are just a few highlights. Be sure to check the official Greentopia website for details.

  • Greentopia | FILM presents Detropia, the story of a Motor City run out of gas.
    Thanks to auto-industry downsizing and other factors, Detroit is now a poster child for urban decay, with whole neighborhoods abandoned – but hope, determination and innovation among resilient residents suggest pathways to renewal and, just maybe, brighter days ahead.
    Wednesday, September 12, 6 p.m., The Little
    Thursday, September 13, 8 p.m., The Little
    >>Purchase tickets online.
  • The Greenest Building is One that Already Exists
    Wayne Goodman (Landmark Society Executive Director), Katie Comeau (Bero Architecture), & Paul Minor (architect)
    How does preservation fit in with overall sustainability?  Preservation is the original recycling!
    Sunday, September 16, 2-2:30 p.m., Centers at High Falls, Seneca Room
  • Preservation
    Andrew Meier (Historic building owner and Mayor, Village of Medina)
    Saturday, September 15, 4:30-4:45 p.m., Centers at High Falls, Atrium

If you missed it last time around, check out our Greentopia post from last year: Preservation & Sustainability–Resources You Can Use.

Preservation & Sustainability–Resources You Can Use


High Falls, Rochester NY

This weekend, The Landmark Society will be joining over 40 other organizations, businesses, and agencies as a vendor at the Greentopia Festival in High Falls. You might wonder, what is the purpose of this Greentopia and how does it possibly relate to The Landmark Society and historic preservation? First, the event itself is designed to celebrate the green movement, showcase what the region is doing to contribute to the movement, and open up a discussion about what sustainability and “green” really mean.

Genesee Valley Park, Rochester NY

That’s where we come in. Although preservation isn’t usually the first thing that leaps to most peoples minds’ when they hear the words “green” or “sustainable,” reusing our existing building stock, preserving our historic landscapes and rural spaces, and reinvesting in our urban centers and rural villages are all examples of recycling on a large scale. And, of course, there are added environmental benefits to preservation–most historic neighborhoods are walkable, older buildings were built to last with high quality materials, and most older buildings incorporate green features such as double-hung windows with operable upper and lower sash that allow you to maximize passive ventilation rather than blast the A/C.

Erie Canal & converted grain tower,
Pittsford NY

So come visit me this weekend at The Landmark Society’s table at Greentopia–I and other friendly Landmark Society staff will be there all weekend. I’ll be more than happy to share with you why preservation is a necessary part of ensuring the health and sustainability of our communities. Or, if you’re reading this post after Greentopia, explore some of the links below to learn more about preservation and sustainability and, more importantly, how you can help save our planet by saving our historic resources.

If you only read one thing, take a look at this article from the National Trust’s Preservation Magazine:
A Cautionary Tale–Amid our green-building boom, why neglecting the old in favor of the new just might cost us dearly. By Wayne Curtis.

From us, The Landmark Society:
8 reasons why preservation is an environmentally friendly activity
The Greenest Building – display board from Greentopia
Embodied Energy – display board from Greentopia
Preservation Tips – display board from Greentopia

From CITY Newspaper:
Closing the door on vinyl windows

From the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Sustainability & Historic Preservation
Weatherization Guide
Window Know-How: A Guide to Going Green
Historic Wood Windows Tip Sheet
Energy Efficient Strategies – Cold Climates
Energy Efficient Strategies – Main Street

From the NY State Historic Preservation Office:
Weatherization Toolkit

From Old House Journal:
Weatherstripping 101 (the print version of this article has more helpful photos and inserts)

The Greenest Building – This website calculates the amount of embodied energy contained in an existing building and the amount of energy required to demolish a building. You can even convert those numbers into gallons of gasoline.

Caitlin Meives is Preservation Planner with The Landmark Society. She’ll be spending this weekend celebrating her two favorite things–the natural and the historic built environments.

How are you celebrating Earth Day?

This year is the 40th anniversary of Earth day on April 22. Have you decided what will you be doing to celebrate this memorable day. Are you going to Wegmans to grab your free reusable bag this Saturday or sewing your own bag with your kids? Planting more trees, recycling your garbage or using bio-degradable, natural cleaning supplies. Apparently all these activities seem to be such a natural way of spending your Earth Day.

Have you ever wondered how sustainable it is for our mother earth to re-use historic buildings. Save millions of kilowatts of energy by not dumping the landfill with bulldozed building wastes. This thought for some reason does not seem to be very natural, Isn’t it! Trust me! Reusing a historic building is the most sustainable act for our planet earth.

This Saturday on April 24, we at Landmark Society are celebrating the earth day by organizing its 24th annual regional preservation conference. At this conference you will learn all that is to know about reusing a historic building– enhancing main streets, how do you green your historic building, preservation case studies and strategies from your very own Wayne County, new historic tax credits and design review process.

You still have time to make your Earth Day special by attending our conference! A wonderful way to commemorate this day! We are still open for registrations! Hurry and make earth day a special day!

For more details on registration please visit

Image Source:

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, preservation associate

What is really Sustainability???

Perceptions of Preservation

I was recently a part of Sustainability Symposium at Penn State University. It was a 3 hour long session where we had talks by the Director of Center of Sustainability at Penn, outstanding students who undertook sustainability efforts on campus and a question hour session. You can check them out at

We had long discussions about recycling paper, plastic, cans etc.. on campus, composting, using energy efficient devices, doing little things like switching off lights when going out of the building. It was an interesting session overall.

I was most appalled by the fact that in this long session, there was no mention of preservation at all. It was nowhere on their radar screens. This made me realize that how much work we have to do in this direction. When such significant issue is not a part of a leading research university’s agenda, then how can we even take it to local public and create awareness about it.

This makes me ponder what can preservationists do to tell the world that adaptively reusing a historic building is the most sustainable effort. This is sustainability! Does anyone know that just a single family home with an area of 1500 sqft has around 1050000 MBTUs of embodied energy in it? To find more such facts go to

With our 24th Annual Regional Preservation Conference at Palmyra, we are trying to unravel the myths about sustainability. To tell you exactly how reusing an old building is most sustainable. To learn more about it visit us at

We look forward to having you with us on April 24′ 2010 in Palmyra. Do join us if you really want to know what is sustainability?

Image Source:

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, Preservation Associate