The Case for Preservation
There are a number of reasons why saving buildings is important:
It’s good for the neighborhood! Preservation promotes respect for both our history and our future, and encourages citizens to get involved in their communities. Because vacant housing and lots often reduce property values, restoration and preservation promote neighborhood stability. Additionally, restoration of an existing building is cheaper than building new housing. Most importantly, however, restoration and preservation attach people to their communities, provide a sense of place, connects individuals with their neighbors, and encourages public participation.
It’s good for the environment! Building preservation is the ultimate in recycling. 20% of the solid waste stream is highly toxic construction waste. Preserving a building can keep construction materials out of landfills. Many traditional building practices in historic buildings are “green”; features like covered porches, thick walls, attics, and cellars all serve to help interior temperatures cool. Preservation reuses existing buildings and infrastructure, and also decreases urban sprawl.
It’s good for the economy! Cultural and heritage tourism is a rapidly growing industry, with many tourists coming to Buffalo to check out our historic architecture. Restoration also brings more jobs to a local economy; it is more labor intensive than new construction, therefore demanding more skilled labor and resulting in higher wages. This means more materials and services are purchased locally, increasing the economic impact. Many historic buildings in this area undergo adaptive reuse projects to make them mixed-use buildings. These sites can be economically more stable than a newly constructed single-use building.
Construction vs. Rehabilitation
What’s the difference in benefits between spending $1 million in new construction and $1 million in rehabilitation?
- $120,000 more dollars will initially stay in the community
- Five to nine more construction jobs will be created
- 7 more new jobs will be created elsewhere in the community
- Household incomes in the community will increase $107,000 more
- Retail sales in the community will increase $34,000 more
- Real estate companies, banks, hairdressers, and restaurants will all receive monetary benefit
Explore the following links to learn more about how historic preservation is economically, environmentally, and culturally sustainable:
- The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse
by Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Places
- 12 Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation
by National Trust for Historic Places
- Measuring Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation
by PlaceEconomics for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
- Sustainability and Historic Preservation
by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
- Annual Report on the Economic Impact of the Federal Historic Tax Credit for FY 2016
by the National Parks Service