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Sustainable Rehabilitation Open Access

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Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, is a rural agricultural borough situated in the heart of Franklin County. There are several existing agricultural buildings no longer being used for their original purposes, and the landscape is dotted with these iconic structures. These buildings offer significant opportunities for sensitive rehabilitation and sustainable upgrades. The historic Bowers/Reed barn in Montgomery Township near Mercersburg is one example of sustainable rehabilitation, fully incorporating the environmental, economic, social, and cultural aspects of sustainability. Retaining the character defining features maintains the barn's social and cultural identity in the region. Keeping the existing structure is a major step in environmentally friendly design. Introducing a new business infuses an economic track into an already rich cultural landscape. With increased awareness and concern about the environmental crisis, there is data specific to the building industry's substantial negative impact. The environmental impact avoided by using an existing building is significant. Embodied energy metrics are swiftly becoming a key element in determining the costs of a building carried over its lifetime. This quantifiable data is augmented by qualitative positive effects on the regional economic, social, and cultural landscapes. Successive Life Cycling directly addresses modern concerns by adapting existing buildings for new uses, integrating modern and traditional building methods. Research for this project began with a comparison of published standards for historic preservation [Secretary of Interior's Standards] and green building [LEED]. Books, articles, and conference proceedings in both areas anchor the project research, while interviews with architectural historians, policy advocates, builders, and architects support the readings. Significant discoveries about the original uses of the barn and adjacent land are identified through regular site visits to thoroughly document existing conditions. Further site analysis proved that some modern systems are better suited than others for this particular project. The research for this project shows that adapting this existing barn for a new eco-retreat not only preserves the cultural significance of the barn, but it also draws on the proven durability of the structure. Moving forward, the fields of design and building will rely heavily on adapting existing building stock to manage carbon emissions, preserve raw materials, and strengthen existing communities.

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