• Below is the slide show presentation Historic Shed president and historic preservation consultant, Jo-Anne Peck uses to talk about making your historic home more energy efficient without destroying its historic integrity. The presentation focuses on practical, affordable things that home owners can do without resorting to expensive high tech or invasive methods. The presentation is geared towards homes in Florida so focuses on keeping the cool air in. Improving the Energy Efficiency of Your Historic Florida Home from Preservation Resource, Inc./ Historic Shed  

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    For Earth Day I thought it would be good to extol the virtues of sheds in relation to being Green in a post (and I'm talking about more than painting it Kermit colored). A shed can add space to your home without requiring any demolition. No cutting through walls for access, ripping off a back porch or previous addition to make room for it. Just a brand new room, detached from the main house that can house anything from the lawn mower to weekend guests to your entire home office. Nothing goes to the landfill. A shed can be built with salvaged materials; anything from old stained glass windows to old pallets can be recycled to make a shed. Great creative when you build your extra room. A shed can drastically reduce commuting time and gas use. If you set your shed up for home office use you can walk to your backyard to go to work instead of wasting time idling in traffic each day. And the bonus of using a detached building for your office is that it doesn't take up any additional space in your house and easily keeps work life separate from home life. A shed is easy to condition. Because it's a small space, a shed heats or cools down very quickly when insulated and conditioned with a small ac unit or mini-split system for greater energy eficiency. Plus you may be encouraged on pleasant days to throw open the windows and not condition the space at all. A shed converted to a rental cottage increases community density, making the most of already developed land for additional residential units which means less sprawl. Using a shed for an outdoor kitchen, home office, or playroom can encourage you to get outside and putter around in a garden and enjoy the great outdoors. The more time you spend outdoors, the more you appreciate Mother Earth! We'd love to hear some others ideas on how a shed can help you live more Green!

  • If you search for green building devices on the internet, you will find a tremendous number of links for "gizmo green" gadgets. These are generally technology-based items that you can install in or on your existing home or entire systems used to build new "green" houses. While we applaud the changing mindset that takes sustainability into consideration, the public is constantly misinformed by manufacturers about the true green and sustainable value of many of these products, touting items that will end up in landfills several years down the road as they break down or become technologically obsolete. The practice is common enough to have garnered the term "greenwashing". As a result, we don't jump on the bandwagon of promoting many of these technology driven devices, with the exception of a few items such as instant hot water heaters, solar attic fans, energy efficient appliances and programmable thermostats that we feel have earned their place in our own projects.Being proponents of historic homes and traditional design in general, we instead choose a more tried and true method for living sustainably for our Favorite Green Building Device: the Porch. No manufacturer is out promoting the simple and attractive traditional shaded porch, so it does not get its fair share of green building credit, but porches can have such an impact on building energy savings (particularly here in Florida) that it amazes me whenever a new building publicized as "green" but has no porch shading any facade (but preferably the south) implemented into the design. Porches have been employed by generations to provide a cool space to sit out on hot days, capture breezes and shading the building interior. They are considered a passive solar technique; they require no additional energy input to operate but can cut cooling costs tremendously by reducing heat gain in the building interior. In addition, porches (when constructed properly) are easy to maintain, never become obsolete and enhance the architecture of your home as an added bonus.Other traditional Florida building techniques also come in a runner-ups in our list of Favorite Green Building Devices: operable window and doors with screens, wide overhanging eaves, and high ceilings.

  • Historic Shed recently made a presentation entitled "Why Save Your Historic Wood Windows" at the historic Shuffleboard Courts in St. Petersburg, FL along with City of St. Petersburg Historic Preservation Planner Aimee Angel and window restoration contractor Steve Quillian. Below is the PowerPoint presentation that we used as an outline for our presentation. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below since this is a topic we feel strongly about.Why Save Historic WindowsView more presentations from Jo-anne Peck.

  • Historic Preservation is one of the most inherently "green" professions in addition to providing a multitude of benefits to communities. It can be an effective economic tool for redevelopment, foster business development, create jobs and strengthen communities. Yet many see efforts at historic preservation merely as exercises in nostalgia and as an infringement on property rights. The following are some reasons other than wanting to retain beautiful buildings for being a proponent of historic preservation: When you choose to repair and restore an existing home, you are performing the ultimate recycling project. Sustainable practice recommendations include considering the embodied energy of products in addition to the long-term energy savings. When a historic home is demolished, all the energy used to produce and assemble the home is wasted. Since the energy is already expended, preserving the home has much less impact on the environment. Historic Preservation reduces landfill wastes. Estimates vary, but it is commonly accepted that between 15% and 20% of municipal solid waste comes from construction and demolition projects. Obviously, landfill debris would be reduced if more people choose to preserve an existing building rather than demolish and build new. When true preservation practices are followed during historic home renovations ("repair rather than replace"), waste is reduced even more. According to noted economist and historic preservation advocate, Donovan Rypkema, "Sustainable Development requires environmental responsibility, economic responsibility, and social/cultural responsibility." Preservation and renovation of existing building stock is the one type of development that merges these three elements, helping maintain vibrant, livable communities in addition to being environmentally and economically responsible. Since most historic Florida buildings were built without air conditioning, they already utilize many energy saving features that "green" designers are rediscovering. Items such as wide overhangs, operable windows with screens, screen doors, awnings and ceiling fans can reduce cooling costs when used during our more temperate months instead of relying on mechanical systems. In addition, historic buildings are often constructed of more durable materials than are readily available today. We agree completely with the National Trust for Historic Preservation's policy statement on community revitalization: "Revitalizing our historic hometowns and Main Streets is not about nostalgia. It is about reinvesting in our older and historic neighborhoods. Preservation-based community development not only protects our heritage, but also is a viable alternative to sprawl that creates affordable housing, generates jobs, supports independent businesses, increases civic participation, and bolsters a community's sense of place." Historic preservation makes economic sense. Studies have shown that investment in historic neighborhoods and commercial centers stabilize property values, encourage redevelopment, stimulate business development, and generate tourist dollars. Places that people love and care about do not spring up overnight; they are built over time, giving them a sense of those who came before and developing character that is unlike anywhere else. Preserving these buildings and sites gives us a sense of place and provide a tangible link to our heritage. We hope that Historic Shed products and services can help efforts to maintain and preserve historic properties while improving their functionality.

  • We have become so reliant on air conditioning and heating that we sometimes forget to take advantage of the inherent good design found in our historic homes. As the weather gets more pleasant this fall, consider taking a few steps to operate your historic house more energy efficiently, and save some money in the process. The following are some ideas to consider:Unstick any windows that are painted shut. It is almost a universal trait of old homes to have at least one window that won't budge, but when more than half aren't functioning, it's time to take action. A web search for "windows painted shut" brings up countless websites with step-by-step instructions for loosening stuck windows, including HGTV and This Old House (they offer a video). Releasing a stuck window is not rocket science, but it generally requires some muscle and patience. Professional help can be called in, particularly if you need to reattach the counter weights; just beware of anyone telling you to replace your wood windows. There are good contractors in the area that can repair your windows, preserving the character and integrity of your home as well as keeping dollars in your pocket. Install wood framed screens on windows if they are missing. You are more likely to open those unstuck windows if you aren't worried about welts from mosquitoes. As a bonus, wood window screens add historic character and an additional accent color to the building exterior. Install wood screen doors on all exterior doors. Wood screen doors should be heavy duty since they open and close as often as the primary door; if the model you see is made with thin, finger-jointed wood or comes with a diagonal wire support, don't expect it to withstand Florida's climate for more than a season or two. Choose self closing spring hinges rather than ugly vacuum bars for a more authentic design for your historic home. Install awnings, operable shutters or blinds over openings on south and west elevations. When appropriate for your house style, they provide a nice architectural accent in addition to functioning as a shading device. Close shutters and blinds during the hottest parts of the day. Install ceiling fans and use in conjunction with open windows and doors. Install a solar powered ventilation fan in the attic to help remove excess heat. Turned on by a temperature sensor, this relatively inexpensive project will help reduce your cooling load next summer. Caulk or foam-seal penetrations into your house (where the cable enters, water lines penetrate, etc.) and install weather-stripping around windows and doors. Air infiltration is good when you can control it by opening windows and doors, but bad when the air you paid to heat or cool escapes. Insulate your attic space; most heat loss and gain comes through your roof. If you expose exterior wall framing during remodeling, install insulation as part of the project. Don't remove plaster walls just to insulate though; plaster is a surprisingly good insulator and reduces noise transmission from room to room. Plant some shade trees on the south and west sides of the house. Trees are a long term investment in the environment, providing cleaner air, habitat for wildlife, reducing soil erosion and sheltering from the sun. Your historic house has shown that it appeals to multiple generations already, so even though the trees you plant today may not have much effect on energy bills for a while, the next owners will thank you. Sit on your front porch rather than watch TV in the early evening a few nights a week. We tend to decorate our porches with inviting rocking chairs and beautiful potted flowers, but rarely take advantage of the peaceful atmosphere they provide. In addition to the pleasure of a cool, relaxing evening, you might find one of the other benefits of living in a historic home: friendly conversation with your neighbors.