Historic Oakland structures should not be exempt from the city's green building guidelines, according to Joan Pavlinec, an expert in making buildings resource-efficient. She is retiring from the Planning and Building Department and as secretary of the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board.

The board bid goodbye to Pavlinec at its Oct. 14 meeting, when she presented a farewell slide presentation about her work.

Pavlinec, who came to her job with as an Oakland preservation planner after previously evaluating design review of projects in Berkeley, has a Master of Architecture degree and has also achieved her LEED Professional Accreditation.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a rating system developed in the late 1990s to help find ways to make buildings environmentally responsible and efficient.

Oakland passed its Green Building Ordinance in 2011, and Pavlinec made a special point of saying that historic structures coming up for review in Oakland are not exempt from following the green guidelines.

"This is not always the case in other communities," she said, "but with the help of staff at the state Office of Historic Preservation in Sacramento, we have found that encouraging building owners of historic properties to upgrade to LEED is the preferred way to go."

LEED guidelines cover design, construction, operations and maintenance of buildings, homes and neighborhoods.


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In the 25 years since the LEED rating system has been in use by design and building professionals in 30 countries around the world, including the United States, more than 7,000 green projects have come online.

Pavlinec and other preservationists have been studying how rehabilitations and adaptive reuses to older buildings and historic landmarks can be evaluated using the LEED rating system.

"An older building, by virtue of the fact that construction, workmanship and use of materials has already taken place with respect to its structure, has what we call 'embodied energy' inherent in it," Pavlinec explained to me. "This 'embodied energy' should be used in the calculation of the various elements of evaluating a reuse project.

"When applicants come to our planning counter to have their project plans approved, our job is to explain how upgrading their mechanical systems, such as lighting, heating and cooling, etc., to meet LEED requirements do enhance the value of their historic buildings."

She described it as "somewhat like when you have a beloved classic car. While it may have been a gas-guzzler to begin with, by taking the steps to improve its engine efficiency, you can have the best of both worlds -- a beautiful automobile and excellent gas mileage."

As Pavlinec's slide presentation demonstrated, Oakland really is a city of neighborhoods, and the neighborhood heritage properties with their unique character not only are standing the test of time, but helping the environment as well.

For more on the preservation policies of Oakland and a list of designated city landmarks, go to the city's website, www.oaklandnet.com and search for historic preservation.

The landmarks board meets the second Monday of the month and is televised live on KTOP, the city's government TV channel. See the website for listings.