3 Questions This Week

On Dec. 1, Preserve Nevada hosts an all-day symposium at UNLV called “Historic Preservation = Sustainability.” It’s the kind of intriguing title that gets you asking questions before you even walk in the door: What do you mean? What does one have to do with the other? One of the symposium’s keynote speakers, Patrice Frey, director of sustainability for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, explains.

How does historic preservation equal sustainability?

In many ways. For instance, building new buildings has a tremendous environmental impact. Reusing existing buildings avoids the negative environmental impact of that new construction. We tend to get fixated on operational performance—heating, cooling, lighting—and we don’t think about the impact of building the buildings themselves.

What are biggest challenges Las Vegas faces in this regard?

The downtown area has a good mix of older and historic buildings, many of which have been neglected over time but lend themselves to creative office space, which is vital to attracting new investment in cities.

How do you deal with the implosion mentality of the hotel-casino industry?

That’s an important issue. We released a study earlier this year that showed it can take as long as 80 years for a new green building to compensate for the negative environmental impact of demolition and new construction. It’s both a cultural and an economic issue. You have to inspire people to see there are creative things to do with older buildings, and things we can do to revitalize them from an economic perspective.

For more information, see PreserveNevada.org/Symposium.

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