Monday, April 4, 2011

Working with what we've got

Tonight at our Urban Planning student group meeting we had a gentleman from the Michigan Barn Preservation Network come speak to us regarding the status of barn preservation in our State. I know this sounds incredibly interesting, but I would actually like to talk about another related subject here. Through our discussions with the presenter, we came to the topic of the reuse of other historic buildings than barns. He described the term "embodied energy" which has been around since the 1970's. This concept includes the energy that exists within the structure, from when it was built (material production, construction labor, etc.) Constructing an entirely new building requires massive amounts of materials, which require absorbent amounts of energy to create. Therefore no matter how "green" these new buildings are, it will take decades for them to actually be saving energy, and until we figure out our own energy crises, the greenest building will remain the one that is already built.

The Developers may not see it, but our cities sure do. We have lost precious open space to new developments as our city centers gain one vacancy after the next. Each new building constructed outside of our downtown areas is most likely a missed opportunity to rehab an existing structure in a prime location. Our cities must find more innovative ways to attract developers to these sites or our cities will continue to diminish as we wonder why the other remaining businesses continue to struggle. An empty storefront does not usually attract visitors the same way a bustling one does. With the oncoming state budget changes regarding historic preservation and brownfield redevelopment dollars I am losing hope for Michigan's cities.

I've written to Governor Snyder and his friends, and I suggest you do the same.

Speak out with Let's Save Michigan against budget cuts

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