Since 2001, Boulder-based volunteer tourism organization Adventures in Preservation has taken requests from across the U.S. and around the world from organizations wishing to save historic structures and put them to new uses.

With each project, AiP proves that preserving historic structures is good for both the environment and the future of their communities.

Preserving a structure in Albania.

Image source: Adventures in Preservation

Why Preserve Historic Buildings?

AiP’s work isn’t just about celebrating a community’s past. It’s just as much about giving that community a brighter future. That’s because preserving historic buildings is good for both a community’s environmental and economic health.

“My professors have always said, ‘the greenest building is the one you save instead of demolish,’” says Jolie Diepenhorst, an AiP volunteer pursuing a graduate degree in historic preservation.

Volunteer preserving a historic fireplace.

Image source: Adventures in Preservation

The facts prove it. Preserving a building instead of demolishing and replacing it saves tons of material from the landfill, consumes much less energy and requires significantly fewer new resources.

Many historic structures were also built using naturally energy-efficient techniques and/or materials. On the other hand, even if a historic structure is replaced with a modern energy-efficient building, it can take a decade (or several!) for its efficiency to offset the energy used to construct it.

AiP logo transparent“There is a lot of misinformation about preservation. Historic property owners worry about losing their property rights and the ability to make decisions about their property. I think people need to be educated on the benefits of preservation and how it plays into the success of their building.”

Jolie Diepenhorst | Adventures in Preservation

“AiP has found that their sustainable building efforts also have a positive economic impact. Preserving historic architecture leads to increased tourism, which in turn draws more businesses to an area, which creates a variety of jobs. AiP is currently seeing this with their work preserving St. Joseph, Missouri’s historic Cracker House:

AiP logo transparent“The community would like to reuse the building as a trolley station on a historic tour of St. Joseph. They are also considering allowing college students pursuing an MBA to utilize a portion of the main floor as a business and live upstairs in an apartment. There is so much potential for the building and the community.”

Jolie Diepenhorst | Adventures in Preservation

How Does AiP’s Approach Work?

Volunteers engaged in historic preservation of a brick wall.

Image: Adventures in Preservation

After agreeing to assist with a project, AiP coordinates with their local partners to determine the logistics and secure funding. AiP then rounds up volunteers and recruits a preservation expert to lead the volunteers’ work. In groups ranging from five to a dozen people, volunteers spend a week or more working to preserve an essential aspect of the building in question.

Over their 16-year history, AiP volunteers have helped to preserve everything from adobe walls to post and beam structures to lime plaster mixed and applied in the appropriate historical style. By doing so, they’ve preserved the unique architectural and cultural heritage of communities from Long Valley, New Jersey to Gjirokastra, Albania to Lamu, Kenya.

An AiP Success Story

One of founder Judith Broeker’s proudest moments with AiP was preserving a Slovenian manor house the city government wanted to turn into a community center. “We had a group of volunteers that included folks from England, Belgium, Australia, the U.S. and India, as well as community members.

“People saw how excited we were, and by the end of our two-week stay, they’d called a meeting of preservationists from across Slovenia where we all shared ideas. When we left, the locals were so inspired that they formed their own organization to complete the project.”

AiP logo transparent

“That’s everything that AiP is supposed to be about: interaction with the community and the people is key. I know we’re there to save the buildings, but it’s the people who make it worth doing.”

Judith Broeker | Founder, Adventures in Preservation

Budget Dumpster is your community-minded source for a dumpster rental. Please visit AiP’s donation page to support their mission. Or learn more about planning your own preservation vacation here.