Marrying Historic Preservation with LEED Gold Certification

January 12, 2012

What a house, what a concept, what a challenge!

Amid a heaping pile of press releases, Annie Kohut from Kohut Communications got my attention with this photo. Her accompanying note read:

“One doesn’t often hear about sustainable design projects that are also historic preservation projects. But despite some preservationists who don’t believe that historic restoration can be accomplished sustainably, the restoration of a 19th century Italianate farmhouse demonstrates that historic restoration and green building principles do in fact complement one another.”

Let’s start with the house: built around 1870 and located in the north Georgia mountains, this place of respite to a former Georgia governor is now owned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Georgia’s DNR challenged the design/build team to complete a $2.1 million historic restoration that would incorporate principles of sustainability while retaining as much of the existing farmhouse as possible.

The finished 19th century Italianate farmhouse is a site to behold — even more so, having earned rare LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Credit goes to the team of Garbutt Construction, which served as design-builder, and the architecture firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent.

“Some preservationists don’t believe that historic restoration can be accomplished sustainably, but the Hardman Farm house restoration demonstrates that historic restoration and green building principles go hand-in-hand and actually complement one another,” said David Freedman, who served as the DNR’s project manager on the restoration. Freedman, now retired from the DNR, also consults and trains on green building.

“Our goals were to minimize the impact of installing a heating system on the historic character of the house without sacrificing operating efficiency,” said project director Julie Arnold in a press announcement from Lord, Aeck & Sargent. “We achieved both goals by selecting an under-floor hydronic radiant heating system to heat only the first floor, allowing heat from the system to maintain an acceptable second-floor temperature, even in the coldest weather.”

The team selected an unobtrusive and sunny area near the farmhouse for the installation of 22 solar panels. Surrounded by a white picket fence, the renewable energy component is a 3.2 kilowatt grid-tied system in which the power generated will offset much of the electricity used by the main house.

In addition to its having achieved LEED Gold certification, the farmhouse earlier this year also received two awards from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and was chosen an AIA Atlanta COTE (Committee on the Environment) Showcase Winner at the 2011 Greenprints Conference.

Kudos to all!

Photo: © Jonathan Hillyer/Atlanta







Glenn Meyers

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.