One of the highlights of Sweet Briar's historic campus is that it is preserved in perpetuity while still being used and appreciated by generations of students, faculty, and staff. Historic buildings are also available to the wider public for historic research, appreciation, and as reminders of this community's earliest years. Sweet Briar is a focal point where the past meets our green future.

The Greenest Building is the One Still Standing...

The confluence of sustainability - also known as the green building movement - and
historic preservation creates an uneasy relationship. It can be difficult to convince people that the historical elements in an old house can be 'green,' just as it is difficult for environmental architects to imagine incorporating historical elements into their designs. Follow the link here to read more about this important convergence of historic preservation and green building techniques.

Sweet Briar naturally invites creation of a nexus between these diverse fields by offering unmatched historical architecture, passion for preservation, and a keen interest in the future.

Sweet Briar House was one of Sweet Briar College's early efforts in this direction. Geothermal heating is environmentally sustainable and allows the building to be well sealed to protect the historically valuable furnishings.

Sweet Briar College: Where Sustainability Meets Preservation

Sustainability and historic preservation are both important to Sweet Briar, making us the perfect laboratory for preservationists and environmentalists to work together. "We have the opportunity to offer a forum in which it becomes possible to mesh these two important positions," explains associate professor of environmental studies Rob Alexander. Preservationists will learn about environmentally suitable structures; environmentalists will become versed in historic building methods. Both groups have the opportunity to teach others, resolve outstanding issues, and create standards for use by restoration groups and environmental architects.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 65% of electricity consumption, 36% of energy use, 30% of greenhouse gas emission, 30% of raw materials use, 30% of waste output, and 12% of potable water consumption. Accordingly, we are designing the reconstructed Tusculum to take advantage of geothermal wells (to reduce our dependence on gas or electric heat), solar energy, and energy efficient appliances.