As I write this, I’m sitting in my hotel room in Tampa halfway through a great weekend workshop with a ton of amazing historic preservationists. I’ve written about a few of them in an earlier post and these people truly are rockstars, but it makes me wonder why with so many great people in preservation, there is still so little traction in the mainstream.
As I’ve had some quiet time away from my daily grind, I’ve listened to some amazing preservation business ideas from these people. Some of which could change not only the way we think about preservation but how we think about our buildings as a whole.
I’ve seen people fired up to change the world and cause some serious disruption to the status quo on the scale of giants like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. You probably think I’m exaggerating and living in a world of delusional hyperbole, but I’m dead serious.
There are 330 million Americans, and every one of them needs a place to live. A house, an apartment, an loft, condo, co-op, a roof over their head. They don’t all need a computer, iPhone, electric car, or trip to space (though all of those would be cool).
They need a safe, warm place to live that is both sustainable and maintainable. They need a home. And preservationists are in the business of fixing homes. Let’s play a little game of what if…
Preservationists could get off their arrogant, high horses and stop being seen as anti-progress, but rather, pro sustainable progress.
Preservationists could figure out how to translate the hundreds of studies they have from technical jargon into plain everyday English so that people can finally understand the blaring truth that the greenest building, window, wall, floor, is the one already built.
Preservationists could provide low-cost housing options for people who need it by restoring older buildings instead of letting developers raze them to create high end condos for the rich.
Preservationists could be known as historical preservationists instead of hysterical preservationists.
Preservationists could be seen for what they really are which is someone who wants to use and reuse the buildings we have rather than cramming our landfills full of more and more junk.
Preservationists could expose the untenable waste and lies behind planned obsolesce in construction so that the public would see it and make better choices.
What if, what if, what if?
The list continues to grow in my mind. As fast as I can write them down, new ideas come into my mind. But the over-arching theme is that historical preservation needs to get its act together!
How can a group of people who have not only the truth on their side, but the studies to back it up, fail to communicate that truth in a coherent way to the masses?
What is that truth? I’ll tell you right now, but I’m also going to promise to you that for the next month, I am going to show you the evidence to back it up in a way that our soundbite culture can digest and understand.
If at the end of this next month, you aren’t 100% convinced of the claims I am about to make, then I will eat my words and publicly proclaim on this blog “Historic preservation is of no value!”
My Four Claims:
- Historic preservation is GOOD for property values and spurs sustainable local economic growth.
- Every single historical wood and steel window can be repaired and made to be as or more energy efficient than a replacement window.
- The greenest building is the one already built, period.
- Original materials in buildings built pre-WWII are longer lasting, more easily repaired, and rarely go obsolete.
I encourage you to come back every week and read what I’m about to start posting here and tell me if I am able to prove the claims I have just made. I dare you.
I expect kickback on these topics, maybe not from my regular readers who already love their old houses, but from those who don’t agree with us.
So, share this with all the skeptics you know. Send it to flippers, developers, mayors, city councils, neighbors, anyone who doesn’t buy this historic preservation gobbledegook. Let’s see if I can make you a believer!