I traveled to San Francisco earlier this month to attend the National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual conference, known as "Past/Forward 2018."

The conference is the signature event in the nation focused on preservation and related issues.

The theme this year was "Diversity and Inclusion: Discussions and opportunities to build a more inclusive preservation movement."

The highlights of these conferences are the plenary sessions, known as Trust Lives. These sessions are live streamed so that those in remote locations can join in.

The first session this year featured Victoria Herrman, president and managing director of The Arctic Institute.

She spoke about resilience in the face of climate change and helped we preservationists understand our role in fighting climate change as recyclers of the built environment.

Another Trust Live featured conservationist, free-speech advocate and author, Terry Tempest Williams.

She shared her passion and respect for the work of the preservation community in working to retain the heritage of the West, including the currently threatened landmark in her home state of Utah: The Bears Ears National Monument.

Each day was full of educational sessions, some on-site, others spread throughout the city. They included subjects such as African Americans and Historic Preservation: The State of Black Preservation in America and Forward Together: Creating a Net-Zero Historic Building.

The sessions are attended not only by preservationists, but planners, activists, scholars and historic property owners curious about the field.

For many here in German Village and Columbus, the concept of historic preservation begins and ends with getting through the commission process.

In reality, historic preservation and its related activities are now at the forefront of building a more sustainable future in communities across the country.

We work daily to ensure equal representation racially, ethnically and economically in assigning value to the built environment and what is to be preserved in all communities.

We preservationists are at the forefront of reducing climate change impacts by retaining, preserving and re-using existing structures.

One of the single most radical acts we as residents of Columbus can do to combat climate change is to consciously choose to live and work in existing structures, adaptively reusing buildings to suit our needs rather than acquiring new construction for our residential and commercial use. The data is in: retaining and reusing existing buildings reduces carbon impacts exponentially vs. the carbon cost of new construction.

Those who live in German Village and other historic districts with their primitive raw construction materials of stone wood and brick, free of manufacturing related chemicals, are fortunate to live in some of the 'greenest' (by today's definition) structures available in the market.

It is the act of preservation that makes that opportunity for healthier living environments a reality.

These are just some of the aspects of the modern historic preservation movement as showcased in the Past/Forward conference in San Francisco, affirming the relevance of preservation in today's cultural and political environment as a powerful tool in building healthy, sustainable communities.

German Village Society Preservation Advocate Nancy Kotting submitted the Village Notebook column .