May 13, 2010; Source: USA Today | We write a lot about the importance of transparency in NPQ. And we particularly enjoy highlighting examples of transparency done right as well as shaming those who do it wrong. But we never thought we’d come across the story about a nonprofit itself campaigning about transparency, saying the whole thing is just too much of a pane. All kidding aside, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is on a serious campaign to stop owners of old homes and historic buildings from replacing old windows with new ones for the sake of energy efficiency. The group has sent a four-page fundraising letter to counter what it says is an “epidemic” of misinformation blamed on manufacturers who are trying to persuade owners to install new windows in place of historic ones. Instead of replacements, the Trust recommends making repairs and using storm windows. Because old windows are made from high-quality materials and were built to fit specific openings, it says homeowners can’t be guaranteed that stock replacement windows will be as snug and any resulting gaps will make a house draftier and less energy efficient.
Not surprisingly, some groups are trying to shatter what they say is the Trust’s own myth-making. Alex Wilson, executive editor of BuildingGreen, a publisher of online and print guides, tells USA Today while storm windows work in theory, historic preservation communities won’t allow them. After looking at the arguments from both sides, homeowners will just have to see what works best for them.—Bruce Trachtenberg