Balancing Historic Preservation and Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing Projects: New Hampshire Style!

A few of us from Buffalo Energy spent the week in New Hampshire basically doing final testing and final inspections of a major statewide energy efficiency renovation of their affordable housing apartment buildings. The program has been very successful so far with over 20 buildings participating!

Not only are there now several energy efficient buildings throughout NH, many of them are very historic!

This is where my two worlds really collide…energy efficiency and historic preservation. Combining these two topics is very hard to do and both of them end up bending a little ultimately to make the project work.
None of the projects used the historic tax credits (i tried but NH does not like gov. programs…) and unfortunately a few of them have new windows.. But in a place where you are lucky if the place is still standing, seeing a historic building stay alive for the next 50 years or so through reduced utility costs and building upgrades makes me happy because it is a form of preservation. Its maybe not hardcore preservation that we all dream of, but it’s still setting these buildings up for a positive, extended future in the affordable housing world.

The best part about affordable housing is they own their buildings for a long time and provide stability to an area and a building for years to come. Being energy efficient reduces the need to raise rents to pay for high utility costs which does ultimately keep the building affordable, occupied and alive.

An important note: Many of these historic buildings have very little interior details left (usually due to bad rehabs in the 80s..) so saving what exists such as the existing stair case, clapboard siding important to retain historic integrity and character, which we always push for.

We try to balance this preservation/energy efficiency issue all the time as best as we can. It can include this type of scenario: save the tin ceilings, wood windows and exterior details… add energy efficiency measures such as lighting, insulation and air sealing.. And you’ve pretty much mixed both together in a successful manner. Both topics give in a little to have a successful project in the end, which is good!

Anyhow, here are a couple photos of my week. I am probably going to get some bruises for posting this but who cares. We all can’t rehab buildings like the Lafayette hotel.. Right? We have done some incredible projects such as AC Lofts and 257 Lafayette which are historic tax credit rehabs and energy efficiency which are my favorite type of projects however we usually don’t get that lucky in affordable housing projects…

Lastly, this post primarily exists because I think a lot of people don’t know what I do for a living.. I make historic buildings energy efficient. It’s a daunting task but one that is well worth it.





Buffalo’s Young Preservationists: Creating Friendships For a Successful Future!

I wanted to show this photo which was taken by Forgotten Buffalo from the Buffalo’s Young Preservationists (BYP) event last night at Mickeys on Fillmore ave. This photo really shows strength, love and a good group of Buffalo change makers of all ages!

As I said last night, although we have several preservation battles in our face, it is important to come together once in a while and laugh, drink and bond. That is what is wonderful about the BYP Happy Hour. Of course we talk preservation but we also start planning events, talking important Buffalo facts and most importantly, we create friendships that will stay for years to come.

Thanks to everyone who came out last night. The event was filled with excitement, history, care and laughs.

Lets try to remember these happy times when we are angry, upset and infuriated over an issue. (Dana Saylor has the best angry face ever!) More importantly, lets remember that we are all in this together under ONE preservation umbrella that makes Buffalo a better place. It doesn’t matter if we are young, old or ancient. We are all in this together.

Celebrating Niagara Falls: The Importance of Historic Preservation

I wanted to take a minute to celebrate a couple of amazing houses in Niagara Falls, New York. Too often we talk about the decay of Niagara Falls (I am not denying there is a problem there) but we never even give a little credit to the ones who deserve it.

I snapped the photos below while taking a short walk through the downtown historic preservation district on Sunday. The Park Place Historic district is small but  has a high value which was estimated at almost 7 million in 2006. Here is more information on the district itself, which was put together by our very own Tom Yots of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.

Just last week, Niagara Falls had a preservation win when the hospital expansion was denied because of a landmarked historic building standing in its way, which was not wanted by the City officials of Niagara Falls however, it is important to point out that being a certified local government, Niagara Falls is expected to take into consideration historic buildings and the landmarking status really helped secure the buildings future. Great!

Anyhow, here are the photos I took. The buildings are stunning. They are ones that you would see on Delaware Avenue or around Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo, NY. This little historic district has helped to maintain and support several incredible houses on this street through historic tax credit incentives and general “good intention ” expectations. 

When we think of Niagara Falls, of course we think of its need for so many resources. But we also need to think about how important it is to keep the resources we have.. to preserve the small amount of what is left from the good ole’ days of Niagara Falls. We need to begin to think that restoring these buildings will help to retain and pull new people into the area, ones who want a stable housing market and a safe place to live.  Historic preservation brings stable communities, increased property value and good paying jobs to the economy. Come on, Niagara Falls… you can do it!!

Anyhow, I am getting off my soap box. These houses are wonderful. Lets celebrate Niagara Falls once in a while!

Two Events This Week : Green Building 101 & BYP Happy Hour!

There are TWO important events this week that you should attend.

Monday, June 18th – Green Building 101 @ Hallwalls

Tonight is the GREEN BUILDING 101 event @ Hallwalls: 341 Delaware Ave. It starts at 7pm and features myself, my boss Fred Fellendorf and Shai Lauros from NYC. We will be showing videos, explaining green building techniques and more. Its going to be really fun!

Here is the good neighborhood post about it:

Wednesday, June 20th – BYP Happy Hour @ The Adam Mickiewicz Library (612 Fillmore Ave)

East side drinking and talking about preservation in one of the most historic libraries in the country. This will be a fun event!

Green Building 101 – Monday, June 18th @ 7pm // Hallwalls // Free!

Friends! Please come see myself, Fred Fellendorf (of Buffalo Energy) and Shai Lauros from NYC speak on green buildings. Its going to be fun and informative!! See below for details.  Here is the facebook event link.




WNYSEA and GreenHomeNYC Presents:

Green Building 101
The experts from NYC and Buffalo are coming together for one night only to give you the best, most effective tips to green your building.

Come to listen, learn and be inspired!

Speakers: Shai Lauros, GreenHomeNYC, Fred Fellendorf and Bernice Radle, Buffalo Energy

Details: Monday, June 18th // 7pm // Free // Hallwalls // 341 Delaware Ave

Are you a homeowner, commercial property owner or property manager concerned with increasing energy costs?

Are you a contractor, architect, interior designer or real estate broker whose clients have asked about green buildings?

Do you plan to renovate, buy or develop a building?

If you answered YES, we have the experts here to help you!

GreenHomeNYC pairs with WNYSEA to curate the top tips for greening buildings by way of green materials, waste prevention and reduction, and energy efficiency.  Take a tour around what the experts in the field have to say to design, construct, maintain and enjoy an energy efficiency building with healthy indoor environmental quality.  This forum is a spinoff of an earlier forum that took place in New York City in May, organized by GreenHomeNYC and hosted by Trespa, wherein an audience of tenants, homeowners and building professionals gathered to hear how to reduce energy and water use; improve occupant health, safety and comfort with non-toxic, reusable and recycled building materials; and prevent waste and pollution.

Join us in Buffalo for a Green Building 101 on June 18th where we review the same, but with particular attention to those issues facing Buffalo’s building stock.  There’ll be something here for everyone – we’ll present insider tips applicable to novices and experts alike.  To start things off, we’ll screen the videos produced from the NYC forum that discuss why we’re embarking on our Green Buildings, Green Cities campaign, and take questions from the audience on these issues.  Following this, our Buffalo experts will take the stage to discuss their top tips for greening the City’s buildings.
For more information go to /

Facebook event link:

Buffalorising article:

NESEA Keynote Speech – March 2012

Buffalo Zoning Code – Educate Yourself!

Buffalo is undergoing the ambitious adventure of a complete zoning overhaul using a form based format – city wide. This is something that only Miami and Denver have done before. It’s revolutionary.  This is a daunting task yet once it is complete, we will quickly reap the benefits of a simple, understandable document that truly puts our best foot forward for our future. 

This is a simple post to tell YOU to educate yourself a little on zoning, urban planning, the transect.. and read through the documents that the city is putting out there. The more you understand, the better feedback which makes the code stronger for our future. Take some time to go to the meetings that are happening this week and get involved in the process. The schedule is listed  here.


Here are a couple urban planning 101 / Green code links for you to review.

There are several reports you can download here:

Also for some background on form based codes go here:

To think about LEED ND (neighborhood development) – check this out:

A comparison of conventional zoning vs. form based: