'The Greenest Building', last night at the Portland Public Library with the writer/director Jane Turville in attendance. The movie walks through a history of the historic building preservation movement and the sustainable movement and discusses how the two can be linked now to form the kind of life we all desire. Recycling a building is much more sustainable usually than demolishing a building and building new for many reasons.
One reason is the material in the existing building took a lot of energy to create and new materials must consumer a lot of energy to create so you are throwing away embodied energy and using new embodied energy.
Also, an older building many times is built to last a long time whereas some developers create buildings merely for profit and no regard for the place they are build or the long term impact. This leads to many 'souless' buildings and hence, places.
This leads to another factor which is a sense of place manifests over a long time with the stories accumulating of members of families as craftsmen working on the area's buildings and thus making history which is tossed aside in the name of efficiency. When we include the psychology of an area into our decision making process, we are more balanced. We are not machines and cannot continue to treat ourselves this way.
One hope is the sustainability movement will help stretch our development timeline to include 100 years from now and what sorts of places we'd like to inhabit.
The greenest building may be one that already exists waiting for some sustainable tweaks. Maybe there is no place like home.