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Sustainability and Historic Preservation
What is sustainability? 
Why should I use sustainable methods? 

Rockville is striving to be a leader in environmentally sustainable activities that enhance our community's quality of life. The conservation ethic strives to assure that the things we value, such as parkland, clean air, and heritage sites, will be available for our children and future generations to come.

Rockville’s historic buildings and sites are important resources as they contribute to our community’s common cultural identity, unique sense of place and aesthetic appeal. Thus, their preservation is more important than ever for Rockville’s success today and for future generations. Less than one-percent of the approximately 25,247 residential units in the city are officially designated as historic resources. This small number of resources has been designated to represent Rockville’s heritage. As designated resources, these buildings and sites testify to the heritage of our city, something that the undesignated buildings may also support, but without the assurance that they will be retained for the future.

Today, we must also acknowledge historic preservation in the context of growing environmental concerns, such as climate change, energy pollution and dwindling natural resources. Sustainability in the historic context means that we can make our historic buildings more energy efficient while preserving them, and thereby promote a sustainable global environment and Rockville’s unique history for generations to come. It must be noted, however, that reducing energy usage in 1 percent of our buildings cannot have the same impact as reducing energy usage in the other 99 percent of our buildings. The focus of historic structures must continue to be on preservation of the historic character and significance of the site.

A building’s status as historic does not automatically make that building environmentally hazardous and unsustainable! In fact, it is more environmentally conscious to rehabilitate an older home using green measures than it is to demolish the home, throw it in a landfill, and start with new development. Most historic buildings have inherently sustainable features, because they were built during a time without air conditioning, central heating or electricity. Shutters, skylights and deep porches are just some of the naturally “green” aspects of historic homes that can be preserved to maintain and increase energy efficiency and comfort. Further, historic buildings can absolutely be made “green” without compromising historic character. You just need to know the right tactics and methods.