The Real Deal New York

New York City’s landmarked buildings may be greener than they appear

January 25, 2012 04:30PM

Old, outdated buildings, which constitute over half of the city’s 838,337 properties and are often seen as energy hogs compared with new LEED-certified towers, may be greener than perceived, the New York Times reported, as they already incorporate energy-efficient design features.

That’s the conclusion reached by the Municipal Art Society, which recently announced that it’s compiling a “greening” manual for owners of landmarked historic properties, the Times said.

Despite common notions that older buildings are energy guzzlers, they actually incorporate natural ventilation and light and the collection of water in cisterns, which are all highly energy-saving techniques, said Lisa Kersavage, senior director for preservation and sustainability at the society. The buildings can be made even greener through simple optimization, she said, including the addition of solar panels to flat roofs.

This approach — “retaining and repairing existing buildings, rather than just starting all over again” – is better for the environment, she added, as it can take up to 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to even make up for the carbon dioxide expended during construction. [NYT]