German Village Gazette

Village Notebook

The 'greenest' home is actually an old home

There is a common misconception that historic homes are not environmentally friendly. On the contrary, the greenest structures are the ones already built.

Historic structures are inherently environmentally friendly, because they have already been constructed, thus saving materials and labor.

Many aspects of historic architecture are fundamentally green, because our ancestors did not have modern conveniences at their disposal.

They instead used renewable materials and constructed structures that took climactic conditions into consideration.

Typically, historic architecture has higher ceilings and taller windows to accommodate heat with maneuverable window sashes to allow hot air out the top.

Hot air goes up and cool air goes down, historic homes were constructed to assist this kind of air circulation.

Buildings were intentionally built smaller to heat more efficiently and save resources (time, labor and materials).

Homes and businesses were constructed more densely and interspersed, which allowed for pedestrian-oriented communities.

The list of historic building and city planning practices which created environmentally friendly structures is extensive and reflects different regional needs.

With the Go Green committee sparking a newfound enthusiasm for green living in the German Village Historic District, one must reflect on the historic architecture and how modern modifications might adversely affect the green efficiency that is inherently a part of the structures.

For more information visit the National Institute of Building Sciences website; National Trust for Historic Preservation Green Lab,; or contact Sarah Marsom at to discuss how to help your historic home become more green.

German Village Historic Preservation Advocate Sarah Marsom submitted the Village Notebook column.