The Preservation of Existing Buildings Is Climate Action

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A decade ago, I was president of Architectural Conservancy Ontario, an organization that “encourages the conservation and reuse of structures, districts and landscapes of architectural, historic and cultural significance.” I spent much of my time talking about embodied energy, a controversial subject back then, noting in a 2012 post on Treehugger that it was considered by many to be “water under the bridge–Energy spent 2, 20, or 200 years ago to build a building simply isn’t a resource to us today.”

Much has changed in the last decade, with many of those changes documented on Treehugger. I was recently invited to speak at the Ontario Heritage Conference in Brockville, Ontario, where I tried to explain how two developments of the last decade should change the way we think about existing buildings. What follows is a summary of my presentation about these two things that change everything: embodied carbon and heat pumps.

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