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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor and Historic Preservation President launch Preservation Green Lab in Seattle

3/25/2009  12:00:00 PM
Bryan Stevens, (206) 684-5045
Nord Wennerstrom, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 202-588-6380

Mayor and Historic Preservation President
launch Preservation Green Lab in Seattle

“First in nation” lab focuses on
energy-efficient rehabilitation of historic buildings

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels and National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe today announced a new private-sector effort to rehabilitate historic buildings with energy-efficient technology.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation created the new Preservation Green Lab, which is partially funded by a $50,000 grant from the city of Seattle over two years. The first of its kind in the nation, the lab partners with selected cities and states to suggest innovative sustainable development policies for existing buildings and neighborhoods. In addition, the lab will serve as a national clearinghouse for best practices for green rehabilitation.

“Our buildings are our history. We need to preserve our past, but we also need to prepare for the future. By adapting the latest technology, we can renovate our historic buildings without toasting the planet,” said Nickels. “We welcome the Preservation Green Lab and look forward to a future of preservation.”

“The establishment of this field office will further the goals of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Sustainability Program, which include promoting building reuse, reinvestment in older communities, and the greening of existing buildings to combat climate change,” said Moe. “With more than 43 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions coming from the operation of buildings, reusing and improving the energy efficiency of older and historic buildings is an essential part of a sustainable future.”

The launch of the Green Lab was held in the Joseph Vance Building, a revitalized 1920s-era 120,000 square foot mixed-use office/retail building in downtown Seattle, located close to light rail transit. The building was rehabilitated by Jonathan Rose Companies’ Rose Smart Growth Investment Fund I, L.P., the nation’s first real estate investment fund focusing on the acquisition and greening of existing buildings.

The Vance Building combines historic preservation and green building practices, and illustrates the connection between sustainable development and historic preservation. It is anticipated building will receive LEED-EB Gold Certification.

“We are extremely pleased to host the launch of the National Trust for Historic Preservations’ Green Lab initiative at the Joseph Vance Building,” said Jonathan Rose, founder and president of Jonathan Rose Companies LLC. “Existing buildings make up more than 99 percent of the office inventory nationwide. Greening them is an integral part of combating climate change and providing a healthier and more energy-efficient workplace.”

The Green Lab will be housed in the Piston & Ring Building, 1429 12th Ave., Suite C, and will be headed by Liz Dunn, executive director of the Green Lab. Dunn’s work preserved the Pacific Supply, Piston & Ring and Melrose Triangle buildings. They are part of the “auto row” heritage of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Dunn is a long-time advocate for retaining the historic characteristics of neighborhoods. “Restoring old buildings and preserving neighborhood fabric is often the most sustainable thing we can do,” said Dunn. “I look forward to working with the city of Seattle on developing protocols that balance our need for increased urban density with preservation of historic urban fabric.”

The reuse of older and historic buildings often creates more jobs than does new construction. According to Donovan Rypkema, principal of Place Economics, rehabilitation generally uses about 20 percent more labor and, in turn, produces a greater number of jobs than with new construction. Investment in building retrofitting creates demand for electricians, heating/air conditioning installers, carpenters, construction equipment operators, roofers, installation workers, carpenter helpers, construction managers and building inspectors.

Support for the Preservation Green Lab was made possible by the city of Seattle, the Kresge Foundation, the Bullitt Foundation, the Charles Evans Hughes Foundation, the Goodfellow Fund, 4Culture, and Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Daniels.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a nonprofit membership organization bringing people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them. By saving the places where great moments from history - and the important moments of everyday life - took place, the National Trust for Historic Preservation helps revitalize neighborhoods and communities, spark economic development and promote environmental sustainability. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., nine regional and field offices, 29 historic sites, and partner organizations in all 50 states, the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides leadership, education, advocacy and resources to a national network of people, organizations and local communities committed to saving places, connecting us to our history and collectively shaping the future of America’s stories. For more information, visit

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