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Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office
Preservation of Historic Buildings: The Ultimate in Environmental Conservation

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, April 29, 2008  
Contact Information:  Diane Comer
(502) 564-7005 Ext. 120

Craftsmen, interested individuals encouraged to take part in workshops,
register for new Online Resource Directory

FRANKFORT, Ky. – As an effort to focus the world's attention on our home planet and support policies and programs that help create a safer, healthier and cleaner environment, Earth Month 2008 offers the perfect opportunity to remind Kentuckians why preserving our state's historic buildings and structures is the ultimate in environmental conservation.  In addition to recycling bottles, cans and newspapers, recycling buildings and preserving original features results in positive economic and environmental benefits to Kentucky's communities.

According to Donna M. Neary, Kentucky Heritage Council executive director and state historic preservation officer, the treatment of windows on a historic building is a key decision for owners of historic properties, as the windows are often the most significant character-defining feature of a building.  Unfortunately, she says, when it comes to historic windows, the prevailing sentiment in Kentucky and across the nation seems to be "replace instead of repair," primarily due to the availability of commercial replacement windows and a common perception that older windows cannot be adequately repaired or updated.

"Deciding on the best option for your historic home doesn't mean a 'one size fits all' solution," Neary said.  "Homeowners often have several options for improving energy efficiency or repairing and updating windows.  Storm windows, weather stripping and window seals are among the alternatives to replacement, and finding trained professionals to offer advice and perform the work is becoming easier all the time."

To address the need for qualified craftsmen who understand the technical aspects of working on a historic home or building, the Kentucky Heritage Council is partnering with both Maysville Community and Technical College in cooperation with Old Washington, Inc., and Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County to present a series of hands-on workshops beginning in May on topics including window sash repair, diagnosing and treating common problems in historic buildings, brick masonry, preservation of log buildings, and dry stone wall repair and construction.  A complete schedule is available online at the Heritage Council Web site,

To enhance options for property owners, the Heritage Council in partnership with the statewide advocacy organization Preservation Kentucky, Inc., are seeking contractors throughout the state who have the skills and tools to repair historic windows.  Individual contractors and companies who qualify are invited to add their names to Preservation Kentucky’s new Online Resource Directory.  To be included in the directory, visit Preservation Kentucky’s Web site at and complete the online application, or call 270-358-9069 to request that an application be mailed or faxed to you.  The listing is free for one year and may open doors to clients who may not otherwise know about your services.

On any given day many historic buildings throughout the Commonwealth are being restored and rehabilitated, and recycling is often a major component.  Communities are investing in their downtown districts, hospitals, schools, warehouses and commercial buildings to give them new uses, and more people are choosing to live in older housing instead of building new.  Important to note, however, that through the use of incentives such as grants, tax credits and local design guidelines, property owners investing in historic rehabilitation are required to meet local, state and national standards and guidelines for how this work is completed.  Without exception, these standards follow the basic premise that one should "repair before replace" historic materials and features, preserving historic fabric as well as reducing waste in landfills and recycling resources to extend their usefulness.

"As noted economist Donovan Rypkema observes, windows in buildings several decades old are typically constructed with hardwood timber from old-growth forests, and destroying them is essentially the same as destroying these resources," said Patrick Kennedy, Heritage Council restoration project manager.  "What people often don't consider is that replacement windows are manufactured with petroleum byproducts."

"Also," he added, "when replacement windows are damaged, in most cases they cannot be repaired, and despite warranties offered by manufacturers, they will in fact fail and require replacement – often in less than 10 years.  That is why they are called 'replacement' windows."

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An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office is responsible for the identification, protection and preservation of historic buildings, sites and cultural resources throughout the Commonwealth, in partnership with other state and federal agencies, local communities and interested citizens.  This mission is integral to making communities more livable and has a far-ranging impact on issues as diverse as economic development, jobs creation, affordable housing, tourism, community revitalization, environmental conservation and quality of life.


Last Updated 4/29/2008