ACHP 2024 Section 3 Report to the President

Successes and Challenges in Climate Change Response Historic properties are under assault from the effects of climate change across a wide array of environments. Agencies reported on a number of approaches they used to protect historic properties against climate impacts such as erosion, storm damage, flooding, drought, and wildfires. Several agencies also highlighted their ability to make improvements and adaptations to historic properties without adverse effects.

The U.S. Custom House in Fajardo, PR, played a vital role in Puerto Rico's transition from a Spanish to U.S. colony in the 1890s. The Custom House was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017 (left), but was extensively repaired and renovated during the reporting period (right). (CBP)

» The Food and Drug Administration reported it faced challenges and opportunities in protecting its Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory Site, which contains significant archaeological deposits at risk of erosion. The agency is working toward moving some laboratory operations from the site to better protect the historic archaeological features, including Native American shell middens. » The Presidio Trust is a recognized leader in sustainable design and rehabilitation of historic properties. The agency’s adopted codes, standards, and guidelines include several requirements that mandate sustainable design for all projects in the Trust’s jurisdiction, including rehabilitation of historic properties. The Trust has carried Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for all large rehabilitation projects since 2010, and as of 2023, 30 projects have been LEED- certified, including the Public Health Service Hospital District, one of the first LEED- certified historic neighborhoods in the country. » USFS recognizes the importance of cultural burning to moderate wildfire intensity and reduce community risks and therefore has begun incorporating Indigenous Knowledge into their prescribed fire methods. Collaboratively, USFS and Tribal firefighters implement prescribed/cultural burns and work together for cultural benefits. The Six Rivers National Forest in California seeks input from cultural practitioners on burning practices to ensure continued availability of materials needed for their craft. » Agencies also reported on the challenges they have faced in adapting their historic inventories to meet current efficiency standards. While some agencies have not seen any notable reduction in sustainability performance as a result of historic rehabilitations complying with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, others noted that sustainability and historic preservation goals have not become fully aligned. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that limited maintenance funding has resulted in priority being placed on keeping buildings operable for their current health care use. » In general, data is lacking to accurately report on the number of buildings that have been retrofitted to improve operational efficiency. DoD responded that, while they do not track that data, the DoD Sustainable Buildings Policy requires all projects to improve operational energy efficiency. Building renovations and retrofitting may be performed due to system failure, change of tenant, and planned end-of-life of equipment. However, the historic status of the building is not a driver in decision making for operational retrofitting within DoD. Several agencies mentioned the rising cost of building materials was a challenge to retrofitting historic buildings. Agencies overall did not report any perceived incompatibility of preservation with sustainability goals; rather, these goals in some cases have yet to be fully integrated.

TVA recently focused on the maintenance and rehabilitation of the three plants of the Ocoee Plant group in Polk County, TN. Large banks of wood windows have suffered damage due to increased


» Prior to Hurricane Michael in 2018, Tyndall AFB and the Argonne National Laboratory’s Sociocultural Systems Department began developing a coastal erosion control plan for Tyndall AFB in Florida. They revised the scope of the potential treatments after Hurricane Michael had passed to include a new monitoring plan targeted toward archaeological sites at greater risk of impacts from climate change. Creating geospatial datasets that show the extent of future coastal flooding and erosion allowed Tyndall AFB to take protective measures and identify archaeological sites most at risk. » The DHS Customs and Border Protection Field Operations Facilities and Office of Field Operations repaired hurricane damage to the Fajardo and Ponce Customs Houses in Puerto Rico and renovated them to improve the building’s resilience to future storms.

humidity and extreme temperatures. (TVA)


IN A SPIRIT OF STEWARDSHIP: A Report on Federal Historic Properties • 2024 | 53

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