Sustainability—climate change and historic preservation


United Nations complex, New York

The New York headquarters of the United Nations, completed in 1952, was designed by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Neimeyer with an international design board comprising a literal who’s who of mid-century modern architecture. The resulting iconic structural complex and looms large on the east side of Manhattan Island.

As the building reached 50 years old, plans were developed to renovate the structure in an environmentally sustainable manner. In the previous 20+ years, the preservation of historic structures through renovation, adaptive reuse, tax credits and other means has become a popular way to preserve the historic character, style, and scale of neighborhoods and serve as a catalyst for economic development, particularly in inner city neighborhoods that had largely become run-down and even deserted.

Now the popularity of mid-century modern architecture and the many campaigns to save prime architectural examples has been combined with sustainability goals built around the issue of climate change. When the UN renovation project was completed in 2015, a study commissioned by the UN supports the idea that historic preservation can be an effective tool to help reduce our global carbon footprint.

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Study Reinforces Carbon Benefit of Renovation

By James Wilson

Building Green

May 25, 2017

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