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Nov 15, 2013 (4 years and 6 months ago)


Pennsylvania History Goes Green

Sustainable, or “green” design is
beginning to make its way

into daily lives
in ways that
are both obvious and subtle.
For the Pennsylvania Historical and
Museum Commission “going green” has
become part of the philosoph
y of
preserving and protecting treasured
historic sites and museums as well as
conserving resources and improving
sustainability. Every day more products,
new equipment and groundbreaking ideas
surface that are energy efficient, use
recycled materials, rel
y on less natural
resources and are more affordable.
National and international rating standards such as Energy Star, Green Globes and
Leadership in energy and Environmental Design (LEED) make it easier to understand
options available for sustainable desig
n solutions for new construction, restoration or
rehabilitation, preservation and maintenance of the built environment.

In 1998 the Governor’s Green Government Council was esta
blished by executive order
continues through the present administration. In

February 2007,

his Energy Independence Strategy to help lead the commonwealth to a goal
of zero emissions. The Historical and Museum Commission had already begun
incorporating sustainable design into its preservation, renovation of
existing modern
buildings and new construction project
s as priority well before 1998.

Museum environments require precise control of temperature and humidity to assure
long term preservation of artifacts and documents. To manage this, the Commission has
mployed a new direct digital control system called the Interoperable Web Accessible
Control System (IWACS) developed by the Applied Research Lab at the Pennsylvania
State University and installed and operated by the Penn State Facilities Engineering
ute. IWACS uses an internet based control system that allows technicians to view
and control the regulation of entire heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at
locations across the commonwealth in real time. Managers, curators and researchers
n log into a system and control temperature, relative humidity and other



environmental factors from anywhere in the state, providing a real advantage in
troubleshooting problems and making adjustments remotely.

Historic building preservation is inherently

a sustainable practice. When evaluating
historic buildings for sustainable design solutions the first step is to examine the
original design features that may already contribute to energy reduction and make sure
they continue to work. Operable shutters, b
oth exterior and interior, were common to
many historic buildings. They block the sun’s heat during long summer days. Outside
awnings also shade windows from direct summer sun. Double hung windows with
moveable upper and lower sashes provide a natural chim
ney effect of cooler air coming
in from the bottom of a window and letting warmer air escape at the top. High ceilings
reinforce the effectiveness of this design principle. Large overhanging roof eaves and
porches also act as shading devices on many histor
ic buildings and windows on two or
more sides of a buil
ding provide cross ventilation.

In colder months one of the most cost effective energy saving techniques is reducing air
infiltration around windows, doors, pipes and other penetrations through the w
alls and
roof. Windows restored to good operating condition and re
glazed along with weather
stripping installed at the same time should make the windows tighter but still allow
smooth operation. If there is an attic its floor should be insulated with fibe
rglass or
other insulating material with a vapor barrier facing down. The attic should also be
ventilated above the insulated floor. The
Historical and Museum Commission
does not recommend insulating walls in
historic buildings because there is a
danger th
at doing so could trap
damaging moisture. However, insulating
basements and crawl spaces is often
effective as long as the installations are
done carefully in these typically moist

Strategically placed landscaping can also
help control energy u
se. Large
deciduous trees planted near a
building’s south and west elevations will offer shade from late spring through early fall
to help reduce solar heat gain, keeping the building cooler during warmer weather.
When trees lose their leaves, they allow t
he sun to filter through, allowing for some
passive solar heat gain in cold weather months.

Another area of sustainable design practices that the Historical and Museum
Commission has been incorporating in its preservation maintenance projects is the
cling of construction waste. One example of this takes place during the replacement
of wood shingle roofing. The Commission has many historic buildings with wood shingle
roofs and now routinely grinds the old discarded shingles into mulch for use in garden
and landscaping.

Integrating sustainable design practices not only fits well with the Historical and
Museum Commission’s mission of preserving the historic sites and museums that tell
the story of Pennsylvania history, but the greening of the commission

also m
akes good
economic sense.