Fast Forward Philly

Preservation Sustainability: Saving the Future By Saving the Past

Ian Smith + Rob Fleming presented a lecture “Preservation Sustainability: Saving the Future By Saving the Past” at the Fast Forward Philly conference.

Here’s a brief summary of the presentation: Philadelphia is the birthplace of Preservation Sustainability, a new design movement focused on saving the future by saving the past. That’s right, those thousands and thousands of old buildings in Philadelphia’s vibrant neighborhoods hold the key to unlock the sustainable future we all seek. Embedded in the floors, walls, ceilings, and roofs of each Philadelphia building is a treasure trove of embodied energy and sequestered CO 2 . Embodied energy is the energy used to construct a building. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Every time an old building is demolished to make way for a new building, the embodied energy is wasted and the sequestered CO 2 is emitted into the atmosphere. In addition to the negative environmental effects, the destruction of old buildings tears at the heart of the physical and social fabric of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. This must stop now! We, the founders of Preservation Sustainability propose a multi- scale, transformative approach to future development in Philadelphia: Preserve every building; Invest in every community; and Protect our planet. To achieve this, we will: Expand the Historic Preservation movement to include every building; Broaden the sustainable design movement to foster more inclusive pathways to green buildings; and Introduce radical new urban policies that encourage preservation and environmental sustainability in every Philadelphia neighborhood.