A new, 11 October 2012, blog post by Jenna Goudreau of Forbes staff using data from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University reports that anthropology and archaeology top the list of the worse college majors in economic terms.
Topping the list at No. 1, anthropology and archeology represent the worst choice of college major in economic terms. Recent college graduates of the major, those ages 22 to 26, can expect an unemployment rate of 10.5%, well above the national average. When they do land a job, the median salary is just $28,000, compared to a mechanical engineer’s initial earnings of $58,000.
The basic benefits of Historic Preservation Tax Credits in the United States are widely publicized – encouraging preservation, assisting with the viability of a project, increasing the value of an under- or un-utilized building and returning it to the tax rolls, and improving neighborhoods, among others. But a recent article published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation highlights one architect, Robert Verrier, who asserts that he has saved over 150 places in the past thirty-plus years and the key to his business and his success, is historic tax credits.Verrier states that, not only is preservation one of the greenest activities as well as an activity that can embody and save the collective memory of a place or entire community, but he notes that “the recent debate over historic preservation tax incentives is … short on common sense. The benefits of these tax credits are indisputable. By redeveloping historic buildings, tax credits save our architectural heritage and spur new private investment, create construction jobs, and set the stage for new economic activities, such as tourism.”
Historic buildings often anchor communities or serve as a gateway into them. Revitalizing these buildings can bring an area back to life. In addition to providing jobs through the revitalization and resulting use of an old building, adjacent activity also rises – often resulting in a domino effect creating even more jobs, community investment, commercial activity, or housing for example. These buildings, with strong bones and strong roots, need someone with a vision who will in turn likely need the assistance of historic preservation tax credits in order to make the vision a reality.
Numerous studies and even more websites have been produced linking the economic benefits of preservation, but the connection of sustainability in this grouping should not be ignored. Historic preservation is an inherently green activity, and is slowly but surely gaining recognition in today’s sustainability-conscious world. Coherently summed up by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, “both preservation and green design share a concern about resource conservation and the goal of making a better future. Preservationists begin by identifying places that have enduring value and deserve to be part of the future. Green design begins as a response to the future challenges of resource depletion, population growth and climate change.” Further summed up in the article, are many of the green benefits of historic preservation, including the fact that many preservationist have knowledge of the fact that many historic buildings were constructed with features considered green today, such as the use of local materials compatible with climactic conditions and operable, well-placed windows for fresh air and daylight – some even featuring systems to collect and utilize rainwater. Not only are many historic buildings green, but their placement and the planning of historically developed areas also exhibit green qualities including compact arrangement, pedestrian friendliness and both mixed-use and mixed-income blended into one area creating an accessible and walkable community. Utilizing this existing infrastructure is not only environmentally-conscious, but is an economic win for any community
A study in West Virginia demonstrates the strong, positive economic impacts produced by historic preservation, which also result in additional positive impacts such as the revitalization of small town business centers – an undeniably green benefit. Wanting to not only test this theory, but gain from its benefits, numerous programs across the United States have been put into place such as the Green Pilot Project in West Union Iowa. The project focussed primarily on creating a green, sustainable community infrastructure – doing so in the greenest way possible: by rehabilitating the existing town center, utilizing and highlighting what they already had. Project planners realized that utilizing the existing downtown building stock would not only help to preserve cultural, architectural and historical assets, but would strengthen the smart planning and growth concepts already a part of their built environment by providing valuable retail space on the street level (keeping spending local and producing jobs) and by reclaiming the much-needed residential space already in place on many of these building’s upper levels. Some of this work was made possible by a further economic benefit provided by historic preservation: the use of historic tax credits.
A recent study published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation titled, The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse, has inspired a great deal of discussion. One discussion in particular, an article by Blythe Lawrence published in The Seattle Times (Seattle, WA USA), provided a follow-up comparison of the environmental value and the economic value of rehabilitating an existing building versus constructing a new one. The study looked at the effects a building has on the environment (such as runoff) and the use of nonrenewable resources (like fossil fuels) as well as energy and and resource extraction, and found that “even the most energy efficient new buildings have to stand as long as 80 years before their energy savings offset the negative impacts of constructing them,” as summarized in The Seattle Times article. The article continued to note that, “from an environmental perspective [building reuse is] a no brainer.”
Going one step further, the article noted that if an existing building has a good envelope the cost of rehab is about the same as the cost of new construction for a similar-sized building. If an existing building needs to be demolished as part of a new construction project, in order to clear the property for a replacement building, the economic and environmental costs increase exponentially. Though many, including developers, are often reluctant to accept or acknowledge the viability of rehab projects, the article sums up the reality of the situation stating that “development is about obtaining the maximum return from a piece of property. You don’t have to build a new building to make money.”
There is an essential tension that exists between industry and government: they regulate us and sometimes they compete with us. When you ask many business professionals about government, even in Canada, the usual response is that there is too much of it.
There is truth to this. It seems that the only cap on the growth of bureaucracy is taxpayers, and therefore, recent promises by the Federal and some provincial governments to reduce the size of government seemed at best, too little and too late. However, while in age of austerity you can really make smart strategic cuts in expenditures, governments are inevitably drawn to the stupid.
The Government of Canada is cutting ten percent off the top of most departments, and a few percentage points more off ones they really don’t like (like the public broadcaster, the CBC). All departments have been asked to declare positions as redundant and thousands of letters have gone out: “your position has been classified as surplus, have a nice day.” This will be followed by a drawn out period of horse trading, interdepartmental moves, and such, with the result that the actual number of positions lost will not be known for some time.
Somewhat to the surprise of the heritage movement, given the federal government attention to promoting the historic battles of 1812, is that government has decided that it really does not like conservators and archaeologists and has decided to close all of the regional labs across the country. As one comment on the Canadian Archaeological Association Facebook page notes “There (will be) more people employed in a single Tim Hortons than are employed by Parks Canada nationally to preserve and care for millions of archeological historic objects in storage and on display.” Read more…
The Heritage Council of Ireland, a statutory body established under the Heritage Act, 1995, has released a report on the Economic Value of Ireland’s Historic Environment conducted by Ecorys and Fitzpatrick Associates. As defined by the report, Ireland’s historic environment consists of two World Heritage Sites, Bru na Boinne in Co Meath and Skellig Michael off Co Kerry, more than 20 Historic National Properties, 38,000 protected structures and more than 120,000 monuments protected under the National Monuments Act. These resources were used as the basis for the economic analyses.
Some of the highlights are:
- The historic environment is a highly significant contributor to Ireland’s national economy, directly
supporting almost 25,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
- Including indirect and induced effects, it is estimated that the historic environment sector supports
approximately 40,000 FTE employment positions in Ireland.
- Within the context of Ireland’s economy, it is estimated that the historic environment’s contribution to the
national economy is equivalent to one percent of total Irish Gross Value Added (GVA), and two percent of overall employment.
- Ireland’s built historic environment constitutes an invaluable educational resource, and at all stages of
the lifelong learning spectrum. For example, not only are Ireland’s flagship heritage sites a major
source of school educational visits, they are also a focus of academic research and conference
- The role of Ireland’s historic environment in attracting private sector investment into Irish towns and
cities, and its contribution to enhancing quality of life/livability in these localities.
There are more benefits as well that can be seen in the report.
A recent article in the Hartford Courant (Connecticut, USA) publicized two studies done by economist and historic preservationist Donovan Rypkema, studying the effects of historic district designation and property values. The first study evaluated the economic benefits of Connecticut’s historic tax credit incentive program, while the second specifically evaluated property values. The conclusion of both studies is that preservation “makes good economic sense” not only creating jobs but increasing property values. Similar results have emerged from additional studies, including one released by the Alabama State Historic Preservation Office in 2002.
The reports concluded that property values within designated historic districts rose faster than neighboring areas or metropolitan averages. The Connecticut study also noted that historic district designation did not, in any of the districts studied, reduce property values – a fact that should relieve the fears of some homeowners worried that potential restrictions may make it more challenging for them to sell their home. In reality, these studies showed that the restrictions sometimes instituted by local historic commissions are in fact the key factor in the rise in value noting, “character of the neighborhood is important, and the assurance that character will be maintained has an economic value.” Read more…