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NCPTT’s Architecture & Engineering program is currently focused on three priority areas:

  1. sustainable preservation
  2. disaster response and preparedness
  3. facilitating trades training.

For the past several years, NCPTT has been working with partners to investigate the relationship between sustainability and historic preservation. The National Center has convened experts, undertaken research, and developed training that promotes historic preservation as an important component of sustainable development. Conservation of our existing built environment includes reusing buildings, improving their energy and environmental performance, and reinvesting in older and historic communities.

Sustainable Preservation

In 2008, the Center began working with the Friends of NCPTT and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) to convene experts to address sustainable preservation. The group created the Pocantico Proclamation on Sustainability and Historic Preservation, which was followed in the summer of 2009 by the “Nashville Challenge” focusing on the impact of increased energy performance requirements, the use of alternative energy sources, and other emerging green building practices on historic buildings. The steering committee of this group met in February in Washington, D.C., and NCPTT was tasked with developing a sustainability and preservation research agenda.

As a result, the Center has been invited to participate in the sustainable preservation initiatives of the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and to speak at a number of conferences. NCPTT is committed to collaborating with a wide variety of partners representing federal, state and local governments, nonprofit, research and educational organizations, and others to define and develop the role of historic preservation in safeguarding historic resources in a sustainable manner.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System has become the industry standard for demonstrating the sustainability of new construction and rehabilitation projects, with increasing numbers of NPS and other rehabilitation projects aspiring to achieve certification. NCPTT hosted a LEED New Construction & Major Renovations Exam Preparation Workshop, May 20-22, 2009, in Natchitoches, La. The workshop was led by Donna Isaacs, LEED Accredited Professional (AP) and a former participant of the National Center’s Engineering for Older and Historic Buildings workshop. Five NCPTT staff participated, with Kirk Cordell and Andy Ferrell subsequently becoming LEED APs.

NCPTT will offer Green Preservation: A LEED Technical Review and Exam Preparation Workshop, April 21-23, 2010, to prepare participants to take the LEED Green Associate Exam. This workshop is held in partnership with Cultural Resources Management Program for the NPS Intermountain Regional Office and will take place at their offices in Santa Fe, N.M.

Disaster Preparation

View of Lower-Ninth Ward Survey in New Orleans captured by geospatial digital video documentation.

NCPTT is continuing to develop a technique for rapid documentation of historic buildings using geospatially-enabled digital video recording equipment. In collaboration with Barrett Kennedy of Louisiana State University, NCPTT staff have presented on this project at a number of national conferences including those of the United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) in New Orleans, March 2009, the George Wright Society, in Portland, Ore., also in March 2009, and most recently, the Building Resilience conference held in New Orleans, La., in Feb. 26, 2010. The collaborators have been invited to present at the DOI Conference on the Environment in Portland, Ore., April 26-30, 2010.

Through an ongoing cooperative agreement, NCPTT has partnered with the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) to offer a number of technical workshops. The most recent of these was Movin’ & Shakin’: Advances in Seismic Retrofit, Nov. 10-13, 2009, in Los Angeles, Calif. Principally developed for structural engineers and technically oriented architects, this two-day workshop showcased the current and latest practice in seismic engineering.

Practical Preservation

The APT conference brought together a wide range of practitioners interested in innovative technologies in the preservation of historic structures and other heritage resources. Andy Ferrell participated in technical committee meetings on preservation engineering and on training towards furthering NCPTT/APT cooperation in offering technical workshops, including the following:

  1. A nondestructive evaluation workshop to take place in California later this summer that will provide participants with guidance in the evaluation and rehabilitation of historic structures.
  2. A workshop on the preservation of wood in historic structures that will be held this summer at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin near Spring Green, Wis., partnering with Taliesin Preservation Inc.
  3. A workshop on innovative tools for energy audits of historic buildings to be held at APT’s annual conference in Denver, Colo., Oct. 6-9, 2010.

Clifton Edwards and Christopher Kato slaking lime during limewash training at Kingsley Plantation

Though a memorandum of understanding, NCPTT and Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (TIMU) held a seminar and workshop on the preparation and application of limewash, Nov. 17-18, 2009. The workshop was conducted at Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, Fla. Participants learned how to prepare and apply a basic limewash.
Working with the Preservation Trades Network, NCPTT co-sponsored the International Trades Education Symposium that was held in conjunction with the International Preservation Trades Workshops in Leadville, Colo., from Aug. 25-28, 2009. This symposium provided an opportunity for trades people, educators, preservationists, architects, students and others from the U.S. and abroad to exchange experiences and ideas to help improve trades education and sustain traditional building craft skills.

In partnership with the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute: Nantuckett (PI:N), NCPTT will offer a one-week workshop on masonry conservation and traditional lime mortars in Nantucket, Mass., Aug. 2-6, 2010. Participants will work with skilled masons to undertake the repair of an early-19th-century structure associated with Nantucket’s famed whaling industry. This hands-on workshop will include assessment of existing conditions, site preparation, removal of inappropriate mortar and, cleaning and repointing joints. The concept behind this workshop grew out of a visit by NCPTT staff to PI:N in the summer of 2009 to lecture on the National Center’s work and sustainable preservation.

NCPTT partnered with Lansing Community College in Lansing, Mich., to present a three-day workshop from March 8-10, 2010, on techniques and technologies for restoring historic bridges. Sessions covered electric arc welding, heat straightening, and hot riveting processes, and were attended by a variety of interested personnel including State Historic Preservation Officers, Department of Transportation officials, engineers, general contractors, students, and historic bridge conservators.

Instructor Norm Jen demonstrating the installation of a blower door during the BPI Certification: Building Analyst Course in March.

NCPTT’s Sarah Jackson attended BPI Certification: Building Analyst Course taught by Clean Edison in Randolph, N.J., March 15-18, 2010. The course included instruction in the basic principles of building science to assess energy efficiency. After completing the course and passing the written and field exams she received certification from the Building Performance Institute as an energy auditor. Architecture & Engineering has been engaged in discussions with the Intermountain Regional Office concerning the application of these principles within parks in the region and plans to continue its collaboration through future projects.


Preservapedia is an open encyclopedia for conservation professionals.

Edward FitzGerald, a former NCPTT summer intern (2008), has rejoined Architecture & Engineering as a Research Assistant. FitzGerald, a Chicago native, studied Historic Preservation Planning at Cornell University and has worked as a web developer and monuments conservator. While at the Center he is applying his unique combination of skills in the development of Preservapedia, an online “wiki” encyclopedia for historic preservation and cultural resource management. Preservapedia is located at http://preservapedia.org. The aim of this ambitious web-based project is to provide a free and open-source reference point for information concerning cultural resource law, planning, technology, theory, and more.

Crystal Nowlin has joined the staff at NCPTT as an intern for the spring. Nowlin is a senior at Northwestern State University of Louisiana where she is pursuing a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Housing and Interiors. In addition to helping with the marketing of NCPTT’s upcoming LEED technical review and exam prep workshop that will be held in Santa Fe in April, she is participating in the development of Preservapedia, mentioned above.

Kim Martin has been selected as a summer intern with the Architecture & Engineering Program. Martin holds an undergraduate degree in history from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Penn., and is currently enrolled in graduate studies in historic preservation at Clemson University/College of Charleston. She will continue NCPTT’s research on traditional limewash finishes.

In addition to its regular summer intern, Architecture & Engineering will be hosting Mughammed Sadiq Toffa from South Africa through its programmatic agreement with US/ICOMOS and the US/ICOMOS International Exchange Program. Toffa is an architect with a degree from the University of Cape Town and a Masters of Architecture in Human Settlements from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. His thesis project is entitled Prospects for Sustainable Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia. Toffa will undertake research in energy efficiency in historic buildings using the Center’s recently acquired blower door and infrared camera. While NCPTT has hosted US/ICOMOS interns in the past, Toffa’s internship represents the formalization of this relationship in a cooperative agreement with US/ICOMOS. In addition to hosting interns, the parties will work together to expand the US/ICOMOS’s International Exchange Program to include early and mid-career professionals.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119