In honor of National Preservation Month, we would like to share an update on the preservation department’s current work. Addressing the realities of human-made climate change requires two actions of any property owner: reduce carbon emissions and adapt the property to the changes in climate that are inevitable. Here at The Gables we already take part in one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions. Building materials contain embedded carbon that is released into the atmosphere when put in landfills. By preserving our seven historic structures, we are preventing the release of a large amount of carbon.
There are always opportunities to do more to reduce our carbon footprint. At The Gables we are working to find solutions while ensuring that our collections are properly cared for. We are researching replacement options for storm windows for all the buildings on campus as we consider the benefits of interior vs. exterior storms. While exterior storms offer better protection from rain and wind, interior storms tend to have better temperature stability and a more historic look from the outside of our buildings.
We are also evaluating the HVAC system. The existing furnaces are relatively high-efficiency natural gas systems. The forced-air duct systems can be improved with insulation and duct sealing. Doing so will allow both the furnace and AC to run more efficiently, provide better comfort for visitors, and optimize climate control for collections. We are also looking into the possibility of replacing our existing gas systems with non-carbon-fueled heat pumps in the future.
The coastal location of The Gables makes the site especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We are creating a resiliency plan to determine exactly what these vulnerabilities are. This process will assess the adequacy of our current seawall to ensure it will handle greater tide heights and increased storms. Water management at the site, including rainwater runoff and retention, will also be evaluated to ensure that basements are not flooding as rain events increase in severity. You may remember that the Hawthorne Birthplace basement flooded after a large storm last August.
You can keep up with our preservation team here on the blog and by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter at the bottom of the website.