Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science Directorate

Historic Tax Credits Spur Sustainable Rehabilitation

Exterior of McCormick Goodhart Mansion post rehabilitation

McCormick Goodhart Mansion after rehabilitation

NPS Files

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
What’s Old is New
Year Accomplished:

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program encourages private sector investment in the rehabilitation and reuse of historic buildings, and is one of the nation's most successful and cost-effective community revitalization programs, the largest such program specifically supporting historic preservation.  Administered by the National Park Service's Technical Preservation Services (TPS) office and the Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Offices, the program has leveraged over $62 billion in private investment to preserve over 38,000 historic properties since 1976.

While historic buildings themselves are often inherently sustainable, and historic preservation is itself sustainable development, an increasing number of projects participating in the tax credit program are also incorporating energy conservation and other features to enhance their sustainability and energy-efficient performance.  In support of Call to Action: Action 25, the National Park Service encourages efforts to make historic buildings more sustainable, while preserving their historic character.

One recent example illustrates how 'green' features are being successfully incorporated in historic rehabilitation projects. Built in 1824 by noted architect George Oakley Totten, the Georgian Revival style McCormick-Goodhart Mansion in Langley Park, Maryland, stood vacant for many years before CASA de Maryland (CASA) acquired it for an administrative and social services center. CASA is the state's largest non-profit organization providing social services for the Latino community.

Using the historic tax credits, CASA undertook a rehabilitation of the building that combined the preservation of historic features and LEED Gold certification for environmental sustainability. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)is a third-party rating certification program for environmental sustainability and energy efficiency. The rehabilitation included a green roof, a geothermal HVAC system, and retention of the highly decorative interior details. The grand wooden staircase and interior moldings, window and door trim, wood floors, and decorative plaster ceilings were repaired and restored to their original grandeur.  TPS has published case studies of other tax act projects with sustainable features.

In support of Action 25, TPS has developed The Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (PDF 2.3MB)to offer specific guidance on how to make historic buildings more sustainable in a manner that will preserve their historic character and that will meet The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation (PDF, 4.3MB).

TPS also has a new website that includes a "Sustainability" section with web-only content, and continues to publish other guidance on the topic, including the recently revised Preservation Brief #3 on Improving Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings (PDF, 1.5MB).

Learn more about the tax credit program at Technical Preservation Services.