Sustainability for Historic and Older Homes

Concord's Sustainability Guide for Historic and Older Homes

Achieving Concord’s 80% greenhouse gas reduction goal will require retrofitting the existing housing stock, much of which is located within an historic district or is subject to a Demolition Review bylaw, approximately 1,260 homes (14% of total buildings), to be more energy efficient and carbon-free.

Retrofitting historic buildings located in a designated Historic District presents unique challenges because replacing inefficient windows and/or installing rooftop solar panels requires approval by the Historic Districts Commission (HDC). Additionally, older houses may be subject to the Demolition Review bylaw.

In the summer of 2020, the Town of Concord brought on a summer intern through the UNH Sustainability Institute Fellowship program to develop guidance to help homeowners integrate sustainability and historic preservation. Abigail Ahern, recently completing a master’s in architecture, worked with the Town to develop a guide for sustainability in historic and older homes. 

The goal of this project was to provide a resource for homeowners to make home improvements that reduce emissions while preserving historic character. The result is a guidebook for homeowners with step-by-step guidance for retrofitting for sustainability.

Click here for Concord's Sustainability Guide for Historic and Older Homes.


Benefits of Sustainability and Historic Preservation

There is a common misconception that sustainability and green building design are incompatible with historic preservation. Preserving and retrofitting historic and older homes have many sustainability benefits:

  • Reducing construction and demolition waste created by redevelopment
  • Maximize the use and life of materials
  • Reduce embodied carbon by reusing the existing building instead of constructing a new one
  • Maintain affordability because the cost of rebuilding is significantly higher than a retrofit or remodel
  • Conserving raw materials by reusing existing resources
  • Preserve the historic character of Concord and its neighborhoods