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Historic Homes Join Green Movement

By Carolyn Neblett     Aug 14, 2008 in Environment
When James and Lisa Smith walked into their 1920’s era home on Fifth Avenue in Franklin, Tennessee one Monday morning in July, they found a broken water pipe, meaning the home would have to undergo some big changes.
However, the plaster walls and framing weren’t the only changes the Smiths made to the home, which they use as an office for their human resources business. They took the opportunity to install new solar panels and other amenities they say will reduce the office’s energy bills and decrease the house’s impact on the environment.
The Smiths are the only ones going “green”. Property owners across the country are seeking ways to reduce energy bills and decrease the impact on environmental resources.
Back in Franklin, new buildings like the Columbia Avenue police headquarters will feature green roofs, but retrofitting offers a way to keep historic buildings up-to-date with new energy-saving features.
According to downtown building owner Karen Cochran, existing buildings produce about 70% of emissions.
Cochran owns the Five Points building, which is just down Fifth Avenue from the Smiths. Although the owners are working independently of each other, both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Last year, Cochran purchased about $1800 worth of “carbon offsets” for the building from a company in Austin, Texas. Now, she plans for even more changes, though they haven’t been finalized.
Both Cochran and the Smiths received approval from the city historic zoning commissioners to install solar panels.
Smith’s renovations include a new heating and air system that will remove 99.8% of the building’s air pollutants, not using paints with harmful organic compounds and using soy-based foam insulation.
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