Aiming to create a green building certification program that evaluates the inherent sustainable characteristics in historic buildings (including the embodied energy of the building materials already used) and provide guidance on appropriate alternations to improve energy and water efficiency, Southface and The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation have launched EarthCraft Sustainable Preservation (ECSP) certification program. It is targeted specifically to historic buildings 50,000 square feet or less in size located in the Southeastern U.S. climate zones 2a (hot-humid), 3a (warm-humid), and 4a (mixed-humid).

Southface and The Georgia Trust are now seeking pilot projects for the program, under which participants receive technical guidance from green building and preservation experts regarding solutions to improve the historic buildings' performance. After registering for the program, projects are assigned a project manager who schedules an initial site assessment that determines the condition of the historic building's existing sustainable features and diagnoses envelope and system baseline performance. Three additional site visits are conducted during construction—one to inspect the building's air sealing, one to examine the building's thermal envelope, and a final visit to conduct leakage tests and verify documentation and worksheet completion—before certification issued in one of three levels: certified, gold, and platinum. Certification costs include a $6,500 base fee for projects up to 3,00 square feet plus an additional $0.50 per each square foot over 3,000 square feet.

The program is modeled off of existing building science elements and metrics of EarthCraft's other programs, and is crafted to recognize benefits in rehabilitating existing buildings, such as preserving walkable communities where many historic buildings are often located. "The energy savings represented by the conservation of these walkable neighborhoods is incalculable and often overlooked," The Georgia Trust president and CEO Mark McDonald said in a press release announcing the ECSP program. The program's directors are open to all sorts of building types for the first batch of participants. "We'd love to have a huge sample ranging from spaces that are 2,000 square feet to those that are 50,000 square feet, and represent everything from old historic homes turned into office spaces, the typical two-story Main Street building from the 1890s to 1920s, and nationally registered gyms, along with multifamily buildings," says Bourke Reeve, program manager for the ECSP program. The pilot phase does not have an end date nor a cap in the number of participants.

Click here for more information on the program and as a whole, and click here to access the program's technical guidelines.