Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Cap and Trade" will destroy Historic Preservation in America

Cap and trade legislation passed by the House and on its way to consideration by the Senate, if passed and signed by President Obama will devastate Historic Preservation throughout the United States and further cripple the United States housing market

As the house legislation is written all homes sales are conditioned upon an energy audit and a new energy rating assessment and energy labeling program for your home that’s outlined in the Democrats’ bill. Your home will be subjected to a new energy rating assessment and energy labeling program that will penalize you for older windows, original fixtures, and dated appliances.

This creates a huge problem for owners of historic homes across the country, especially those who are currently governed by historic district regulations that require that historic elements like windows and historic doors remain unchanged. Imagine being told by the federal government that your Tiffany stained glass windows were not "energy efficient" and must be replaced with thermopane windows! If this legislation happens it will be the law.

You would not be allowed the way this law is written to buy a "fixer upper" which would effectively send many homes to the bulldozer. It would not meet the energy rating and couldnt be sold until it does!

Love you old 1930 cooking stove? Say goodbye to it. Under the energy efficiency regulation you will have to get rid of it if you want to sell your home as you will be required to have 'energy star' rated appliances. You may have to open up original plaster walls to install additional insulation. Love those old radiators? They will have to go as because they will not be efficient.

Do you love your old gaslight out front? say goodbye to it. The legislation requires energy efficient lighting as early as 2012. This legislation will cripple the home building industry as well as it will mandate the tougher California building code for the entire nation which will add as much as 30 percent to the projected cost of a new home which will further cripple the economy.

Why? Analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that world temperatures would be reduced by 0.1 to 0.2 degrees C. In other words, a statistically irrelevant difference that is completely unnoticeable.

The answer is simple: Call you Senator and complain, complain loudly and often. there will be a limited window to lobby against this bill.


Fifteenth and Vine said...

As an environmentalist and a preservationist, I understand your concern. But if this proposed law is so draconian, why does the National Trust for Historic Preservation strongly support it?

According to the NTHP, the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance program included in the bill would fund state and municipal investments of up to half the cost of retrofitting the nation's existing homes and buildings. Historic buildings on the National Register of Historic Places would be eligible for a 20% boost in these same awards because of the special needs and higher costs associated with retrofitting historic buildings. In addition, REEP would give businesses up to $2.50 per square foot for making major energy reductions, and historic buildings would get the same 20% boost available to historic homes.


If a house has an energy rating, so what? People need to know the real cost of everything up front. Besides, many people buy inefficient appliances because the initial price is lower, even if they cost more over time. There's nothing to be gained by keeping people ignorant.

I've already swapped my incandescent lights for CFLs and am very happy with the result, even in my vintage chandeliers. LED bulbs are on the horizon that will be much more versatile and even more efficient.

Adding protective storm windows to art glass would reduce air leaks as well as deter vandalism and theft.

My 1930s stove IS efficient: the oven is lined with rockwool insulation, has no pilot light, and was designed to cook with the gas turned off. Besides, why would I want to leave it behind if I sold the house? LOL

Finally, because .1 or .2 degrees of warming is an average, it's not insignificant. With runaway warming already occurring and feedback loops spinning out of control, I'm willing to do all I can to reduce my carbon footprint--even if it entails some sacrifices.

I was pleased to support the House version of ACES and will continue to support it in the Senate.

Paul Wilham said...

NTHP is not going to oppose this because of Federal funding. The problem with this bill as currently written it will hinder the contiinued restaraion of historic buildings and be in direct conflict with many Preservation Districts.

There is a lot of "rhetoric" out there and there is so much junk in this bill that it will not accomplish it's goal and will setback Preservation in many cities.

The cost of restoration is already high. This will add another level of "oversite". There is 'ambiguity' concerning what this rating will mean, what additional regulations that may come down the Pike may do.

Added to the fact we are in a recession and many economists feel it will be an actual job loss, regardless of the "warm fuzzy" of the environment it will render many homes as not economically viable to restore. This city already has a bulldoze mentality, this would just be one more weapon in their arsenal of reasons to continue to demolish historic properties.

I can see it now: "this property would not be 'cost efficient' to retrofit and we should bulldoze it".

John W. said...

As a preservation/restoration advocate and business owner I support doing what is proper and what makes sense but to force efficiency standards on a topic which is not at all understood by generalists and those in Congress is wrong. I just saw a report that in the Cap & Trade Bill is a provision to force energy efficiency standards upon our historic structures when they are sold. The statement made in the report was that as part of the inspection for a mortgage an inspector would have to us IR and blower technology to prove the building meets the efficiency standards currently set by the government. Any knowledgeable preservationist knows that this is not fully possible with older structure. We need to do more about this but I have no idea where to take it ; I have sent e-mails to my representatives thus far. Does anyone know of an active group out there supporting this topic as needing more common sense and thought before Congress implements some thing that would kill our heritage?

Paul Wilham said...

I think our only hope is the Senate kills it or drastically rewrites it. Like most legistlation that has come forth this year it appears to be hasitly composed, poorly concieved and always "URGENT" that we pass it immediately or the "sky will fall".

I can tell you the cost to take an old house and make it energy efficient is HUGE. We did a 1800 square foot,1915 Craftsman restoration in Indianapolis. Fully blown insulation, insulated ductwork and insulated water pipes, insulated basement and crawlspace. High efficiency heat pump,electronic filters, energy star appliances, highest efficiency water heater,carefully reglazing every original window, countless man hours caulking and sealing.

We calculated it would add 30-45K to the average old house restoration to get it anywhere near energy "efficient". At that, and total electric, we were able to get an average electric bill result of 175.00 a month down from maybe an average of 350.00 before.

Meaning 16.6-20 YEARS to realize the initial investment. Is this house worth more because of its improvements? Not anywhere near the cost to make it efficient.

This administration, not only doesnt 'get' historic preservation they don't CARE. Obama is closely following a Flint Michigan plan to bulldoze huge amounts of urban neighborhoods to create 'greenspace' and make the city smaller and more efficient. With the idea to expand this to possibly 50 major metro centers!

The only hope is the Senate at this point to stop this.