The greenest building is the one that is already built! Senior ECPA Fellows Initiative

Sunday, June 01, 2014
Written by Jeff Soule,Senior ECPA Fellow
Over 15 national Trusts and heritage organizations from around the Caribbean met for the first time to share ideas, tools and techniques for cultural and natural conservation. I presented a Keynote talkon the importance of preserving and enhancing historic city centers as a key means of energy conservation and sustainability. Through adaptive re-use of buildings, compact settlement patterns, walkability and mixed use, the historic places show how we need to develop new areas and focus on infill.


Each country presented their current situation and there were many similarities.  One area everyone agrees needs more effort in citizen involvement.  By educating the public about the value of reusing and preserving the built environment we can gain more political support for the investments and government rules and regulations needed to encourage conservation as opposed to green-field development. The greenest building is the one that is already built. 
At the conclusion of the program, a declaration was drafted to which I successfully added the following:
“Noting an urgent need to carefully use our land resources, we commit to promote the value of historical settlement patterns and traditional building techniques in new development and redevelopment.”
I also mention that land conservation is the flip side of center city revitalization in my address. If we make it hard for builders and investors to redevelop and make it easy for them to develop in the agricultural land, it’s no surprise that the historic city centers decay and decline.  We saw many case studies of revitalization and the change in thinking especially of the young generation, for instance the Woodbrook neighborhood in Port of Spain is a vibrant commercial, residential area adjacent to the center city.  If the governments and international entities are serious about climate change and energy conservation, they need to pay attention to investments and support for historic cities and towns.

This post was originally published in English by Partners of the Americas, here.

To learn more about the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) program,click here