Preservation & Sustainability

The ‘greenest building’ argument has dominated conversations around sustainability and historic preservation for decades, recognizing that existing buildings are inherently ‘greener’ when compared to demolition and new construction. But in recent years, sustainability has come to mean more than simply being environmentally responsible. Older buildings and blocks are a key component to creating successful cities and neighborhoods – historic fabric creates economically vital, socially equitable, and strong, resilient neighborhoods.

Research & Policy Lab

Learn more about the Research & Policy Lab and the work of the National Trust on the issue of Sustainability. 


City-Scale Preservation


Climate Change


Green Building

Preservation as an exercise in sustainability began with the architect Carl Elefante stating that “the Greenest Building is the one that already exists.” In the years since, the body of work related to the environmental sustainability of older and historic buildings has continued to build. Here are a few titles related to Green Building.

America's Eroding Edges

To connect the shared experiences of Americans facing the dramatic transformations of climate change, the National Trust has partnered with Victoria Herrmann, a National Geographic Explorer, as she travels around the U.S. and its territories interviewing communities directly affected by shoreline erosion and climate change.

US/ICOMOS: Heritage as a Pillar of Sustainable Development

A virtual group of heritage practitioners sharing international knowledge on Heritage and Sustainable Development. This is a joint project of US/ICOMOS, the US members of the ICOMOS International committee on Economics of Conservation (ISEC) and the firm Heritage Strategies International.


Training: Understanding Climate Change

Are you eager to tackle climate issues but not sure where to start? This workshop provides clarity of definitions and terminology, describes climate concepts and outlines various strategies to address the impacts of climate on heritage. National organizations and subject matter experts will provide attendees a basic understanding of the role of cultural resources in climate change mitigation and adaptation and specific resources and guidelines to begin climate work. Developed in partnership with the National Park Service.

This workshop is part of the pre-PastForward Online 2020 workshop series.