COFFEE BREAK RECAPS – Periodically, we will be bringing you recapitulations of our live “coffee break” videos, where Danielle and Jonathan address questions related to preservation and provide answers or brainstorm solutions. These recap posts will include additional information and resources. This month’s recap focuses on rising sea levels’ impacts on historic buildings and possible solutions. Watch below. 

 

VIDEO SUMMARY:

  • Focus: The ever-increasing threat of flooding to historical buildings and properties caused by climate change (among other things) – after all, water is the enemy of historic structures 
  • Question: What can be done to protect historic buildings and districts – in a way that is also sensitive to preserving the historic-fabric – from rising sea levels?
  • Solutions: Danielle and Jonathan discussed 3 possibilities:
    1. Make bottom levels of buildings “floodable” as is being attempted at the national level (see resources below for an example) – however, this still puts floors, doors, windows, trim, etc. at significant risk of damage and destruction.       
    2. Consider elevating the building to a level high enough that it is less likely to need to be raised again, and treating the elevation similarly to a “sympathetic addition” – one that is new but whose style and materials are in keeping with the historic fabric of the rest of the building.
    3. Although relocation of the entire structure is also an option, it may be less desirable than the other options, as it is extremely costly and has other risks.

When it comes to flood mitigation in coastal or water-front communities, historic structures should not be forgotten
DON’T THROW THE PROVERBIAL BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER

 

Further resources:

Lisa Craig, principal of the Craig Group, joined the Practical Preservation podcast to discuss information about her work in historic preservation and specifically resilience planning. We covered a multitude of topics including:

  • Her diverse background and 30+ years of experience in all aspects of historic preservation, and how “water being the enemy of any historic structure” triggered her transition to focus on the impacts of rising water levels on historic coastal and riverside communities
  • How her work as former Chief of Historic Preservation in Annapolis, MD inspired her to provide consultation on resilience planning to climate- and flood-impacted communities and cultural resources all over the U.S., as well as how resilience planning can assist communities, organizations, and individuals prepare for, withstand, and recover from disasters
  • The importance of protecting historic “heritage assets” that provide architectural character and economic income to communities
  • The necessity of community engagement as well as partnering with local officials and planners to ensure successful resilience planning (part of the inspiration for her company’s name)
  • Tips for owners of vulnerable historic structures in terms of practical steps they can take to protect these assets, including investing in flood insurance
  • Suggestions for fellow preservation professionals to offer mentoring to interns, to ensure the continuity of the field via the next generation of preservation professionals

 

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For more information on how you can be part of the movements to protect historic community and heritage assets from disasters, climate change, and other threats, Lisa recommends: tuning into the America Adapts Podcast on climate change adaptation, as well as following webinars provided by Main Street America.