In recognition of its expanded scope and role, the Preservation Green Lab is now the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Research & Policy Lab. The Research & Policy Lab will continue to provide cutting-edge research and policy innovation to support the conservation and reuse of older and historic buildings across the country.
The National Trust founded the Preservation Green Lab in 2009 to strengthen the connections between environmental sustainability and historic preservation. With the support of foundations and individual donors, the Green Lab produced a series of ground-breaking research reports on the environmental benefits of historic preservation, including “The Greenest Building” and “Saving Windows, Saving Money.”
In recent years, the Green Lab’s research agenda has expanded to encompass a broader set of economic, social, environmental, and cultural issues, captured in reports such as “Older, Smaller, Better,” which documented the connections between older buildings and key urban performance metrics—from the age of residents to the presence of women- and minority-owned businesses. This research informed the creation of the Atlas of ReUrbanism, an online compendium of maps and data about buildings and blocks in 50 U.S. cities. The Green Lab’s recently released “Untapped Potential” report serves as a policy companion to the Atlas, providing new and innovative strategies for cities seeking to encourage building reuse.
As a department of the National Trust, the Research & Policy Lab will build on this track record of providing data and solutions for more inclusive, healthy, and resilient communities. Current projects include:
- New research. This summer the Research & Policy Lab is launching a major new study on the connections between preservation, affordability, and the risk of displacement in historically African American neighborhoods in 10 cities across the United States. Supported through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, this study will document how the physical character of buildings and blocks impacts these neighborhoods—specifically, factors such as housing affordability and residential displacement. Preliminary research findings will be shared at PastForward 2018 in San Francisco.
- Policy innovation. As part of the National Trust’s ReUrbanism initiative, the Research & Policy Lab is helping to develop policy solutions that broadly support the conservation and reuse of older and historic buildings in cities. Working closely with National Trust staff and local partners in cities—including Detroit; Louisville, Kentucky; Miami; and Philadelphia—the Lab is helping to gather best practices and promote innovative policy approaches, from better zoning to more creative incentives.
Research & Policy Lab staff are currently based in the Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle Field Offices of the National Trust. The Lab works with colleagues across the National Trust as well as with state and local preservation organizations, municipal governments, community organizations, developers, foundations, universities, and other partners.
Jim Lindberg is vice president of the Research & Policy Lab.