Over-the-Rhine Green Buildings Initiative

Four historic buildings were selected for the study, each considered prototypical of building stock in Over-the-Rhine (OTR), an urban neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. A cross-section of professionals were engaged to ask and answer the question: what are the potential challenges and opportunities for combining “green” and historic in OTR. The study brought together historic preservation experts; LEED accredited architects; a structural engineer; a member of Hamilton County’s Planning Department; a representative of City Code Enforcement; high-efficiency HVAC, geothermal, and solar experts; contractors and developers experienced in for-profit redevelopment in Over-the-Rhine; and utilized a University of Cincinnati design and graduate seminar course. Applying LEED rating systems (existing and proposed), the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, and posing questions about the building code, costs, and market prices, the study sought to determine whether the four project properties could be designed to: (1) become LEED certified; (2) do so in a manner consistent with SOI Standards; and (3) produce a realistically cost-effective project. The study also utilized energy modeling software to verify whether the designed plans for the building envelope would meet Energy Star levels of efficiency.

This real-world study convincingly demonstrated historic buildings can economically achieve green building certification and also meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. As members of the interdisciplinary design team, Gray & Pape contributed to this award-winning study of four historic buildings in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The firm developed the project concept, prepared a project case statement and a successfully funded grant application, co-developed the methodology, and co-managed the project with a non-profit partner, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation. Funding support was provided by Duke Energy and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, as well as considerable pro-bono contributions from local professionals and the University of Cincinnati.