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Graphic: NewThe National Trust for Historic Preservation is tracking the impact of The American Recovery Act and Stimulus funding at The Perfect Storm.

Graphic: NewRecently introduced federal policy report: Recovery through Retrofit Report.

Graphic: NewA collaboration of several preservation interests and organizations have been meeting over time to address the procedural issues of sustainability resulted in the Pocantico Declaration.
Graphic: NewCalifornia Public Utilities Commission introduces energy efficiency incentives for 2010-2012:

“California Launches Largest Energy-Efficiency Effort in U.S. History”
Graphic: NewEnglish Heritage guidance on their regulations and building conservation:
“Building Regulations and Historic Buildings: balancing the needs for energy conservation with those of building conservation An Interim Guidance Note on the application of Part L”


U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) re-introduced his G.R.E.E.N. Act of 2009 (Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods) in the House of Representatives, which includes a key financing provision by Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT). The GREEN Act provides incentives to lenders and financial institutions to provide lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers, who build, buy or remodel their homes and businesses to improve their energy efficiency and use of alternative energy. This timely legislation reflects foresight and the considered input of a broad coalition of housing advocates, home builders, financial institutions, government leaders, developers, and the environmental community.

Perlmutter’s GREEN Act passed the full House of Representatives as part of HR 6899, the Comprehensive Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act in September 2008, however the Senate did not take action on this legislation. This year, the GREEN Act of 2009, (H.R. 2336) is assigned to the House Financial Services Committee, to which Perlmutter belongs. Perlmutter's press release provides a fuller description of the proposed legislation.


The California Energy Commission recently recognized local ordinances exceeding the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Local jurisdictions can adopt and enforce stricter standards with CEC approval by demonstrating the proposed standards are cost effective and will save more energy than current Statewide standards. OHP commends the Certified Local Governments of Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Santa Monica for adopting energy standards ordinances which recognize preservation as a specific element within the ordinance to receive special attention. Palo Alto's Green Building Program and Green Building Ordinance provide examples for other jurisdictions looking to include preservation in their energy ordinances.

Palo Alto Application for Locally Adopted Energy Standards, Approved by CEC November 5, 2008. 

City and County of San Francisco Application for Locally Adopted Energy Standards, Approved by CEC September 24, 2008. 

Santa Monica Application for Locally Adopted Energy Standards , Approved by CEC September 21, 2005. 

  Palm Desert expects to begin making loans in July for energy improvments to residential and commercial properties in Phase 3 of their Energy Independence Program, The loan program will be funded by issuing lease revenue bonds under the provisions of AB 811.  

Berkeley FIRST is another example of a city utilizing AB 811 financial incentives for existing home and building energy upgrades.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) has opened their first regional office with a programmatic focus on sustainability.  Preservation Green Lab has been created to coordinate demonstration projects and provide technical assistance and model policies to encourage municipalities and states around the country to use historic preservation and the existing building stock in formulating their climate change action plans. One of the first cities they are partnering with is San Fransico. We will be watching the results closely! 


Image: Look   OHP's website includes information about upcoming workshops and recent presentations given by OHP staff about preservation and sustainability at WORKSHOPS.


AB 32, or the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, is the law that limits Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs) in California, and is the primary motivator for subsequent legislation and regulations defining their reduction.

Salient aspects of AB 32 requirements are:

  • Establishment of a statewide GHG emissions cap for 2020, based on 1990 emissions, by the California Air Resources Board.
  • Adoption of mandatory reporting rules for significant sources of greenhouse gases by January 1, 2008.
  • Adoption of a plan by January 1, 2009 indicating how emission reductions will be achieved from significant GHG sources via regulations, market mechanisms and other actions.
  • Adoption of regulations by January 1, 2011 to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in GHGs, including provisions for using both market mechanisms and alternative compliance mechanisms.

AB 811: Signed into law July 21, 2008, has implications for those owning existing and historic buildings. To achieve a reduction in greenhouse gasses by deadlines imposed by legislation, cities are looking at voluntary or mandatory means to effect energy efficiencies in all existing buildings. Increasing the efficiency of any building can be expensive. AB 811 authorizes cities to designate a district within which property owners may elect to enter into contractual assessments and arrange to finance public improvements in certain circumstances. These districts may further enter into contractual assessments to finance the installation of renewable energy resources or energy efficiency improvements that are permanently affixed to the real property.

Such voluntary assessments to the property would convey with the property, meaning that the owner who initiated the equipment installation or efficiency improvement does not shoulder the entire cost of the improvement to the property. The intended effect is to improve the efficiency of existing and historic buildings while spreading the cost of such improvements over time. Cities would still need to identify and make available the funding for these efforts.

SB 375: To reach the greenhouse gas reduction goals set out in AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, communities need to be designed differently. SB 375 does this by providing emissions-reduction goals around which regions can provide incentives for local governments and developers to follow new conscientiously-planned growth patterns.

SB 375 provides incentives for creating sustainable communities and revitalizing existing communities. The bill also allows home builders to get relief from certain environmental reviews under the California Environmental Quality Act if they build projects consistent with the new sustainable community strategies.  Projects incorporating certified historic structures exempt the project from CEQA implied greenhouse gas restrictions. 

SB 375 impacts the preservation community by creating incentives to use historic resources and to redevelop infill and urban areas.


CALIFORNIA GREEN BUILDING CODE: Adopted July 17,  2008 - California Green Building Standards Code, CCR, Title 24, Part 11.

SIEMENS LEED GREEN BUILDING TOOLS AND RESOURCES: Provides a summary of Green Building legislation at a Federal and State level in the United States today.

USGBC LEED INITIATIVES BY JURISDICTION: Provides links to numerous LEED initiatives including legislation, executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, and incentives established by federal agencies, state and local governments, and educational institutions across the United States


California is one of several states with green building executive orders; California's EO S-20-04 commits the state to "aggressive action" by state agencies, departments, and other entities to, among other things,

  • Reducing grid-based energy usage in state owned buildings,
  • Designing, constructing; and operating all new and renovated state-owned facilities to "LEED Silver" or higher standards;
  • Renovating buildings using the cost-effective measures described in the Green Building Action Plan;
  • Encouraging commercial building owners to increase the energy and resource efficiency of their buildings using measures described in the Green Building Action Plan.


Graph: NewFresno Green - Creating a Sustainable Community (PDF) (Updated 2009)

Fresno - Residential Checklist (PDF) (Updated 2009)

Fresno - Non-Residential Checklist (PDF) (Updated 2009)


Graph: NewThe San Francisco Chapter 13C Green Building Requirements ordinance is notable in that:

  • It discourages the demolition of historic resources by increasing the points required for LEED certification by 10%, and adds 25 points to be achieved for GreenPoint Rated certification. In addition, one additional credit must be achieved for LEED MR3, MR4, MR5, MR6, or MR7.
  • It encourages the retention of historical character-defining features by granting additional points for both LEED and GreenPoint Rated as per Table 1304C-A.


The Palo Alto Green Building Ordinance is notable in that:

  • It recognizes the embodied energy in existing buildings.
  • It reduces the number of GreenPoint RatedTM checklist points by 10 points in residential projects that are designated on the City's Historic Inventory, and for structures eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, provided they are found consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
  • Exemptions for compliance may be granted based on a demonstrated conflict between historic preservation goals and sustainability goals.
  • Provides for reports to be written by the Architectural Review Board and others to evaluate the results of the implementation of the ordinance.


"Green" Preservation Practices, Architectural Features, Elements, and Styles


The California Department of Justice list of Local Government Green Building Ordinances in California provides a comprehensive list of California cities with Green Building Ordinances and an overview of standards and issues surrounding the creation and usage of ordinances.