BRS restored the exterior to its original beauty, without a single stone going to waste.
BRS restored the exterior to its original beauty, without a single stone going to waste.

Restoring windows
Masons specializing in restoration can help general contractors and owners make other building components more energy efficient, too. Windows that have already survived for a century have proven their sustainability, yet many people assume that new windows are inherently more energy efficient. The fact is, the biggest energy loss from windows is from poorly operating moving parts (like weights in window sashes) and from gaps between the window frames and the surrounding stone. Some windows can be "tuned up" and the frames painted to prevent rot and deterioration. Others require selective wood replacement. In any case, windows should be properly mounted and weather stripped for maximum efficiency.

Sending usable windows to landfill and buying new is not a "green" practice. Existing windows should be evaluated fairly before they are discarded. If a window can be made to operate correctly and fit in the stone facade properly, it should be restored just like the rest of the building.

Recycling stone
Many buildings in 19th century Denver were built of orange sandstone from the mountains near Manitou Springs, Colorado. When these buildings are demolished the stone is often salvaged. Preservation experts at BRS visit salvage yards frequently to find materials for specific projects. Sometimes they acquire pieces for their own collection. Even rubble-sized rocks can be recycled.

This legwork paid off when BRS needed to replace stone while renovating Treat Hall, an 1890 sandstone building on the Denver campus of Johnson & Wales University. BRS had some pieces in their collection that they could use for small repairs. But they were also aware of some giant pieces - blocks of stone three feet by three feet by four feet - stored in the back of one of the salvage yards they visited often.

These salvaged blocks, large enough to be carved to match the size and appearance of the originals, were critical to a successful renovation. The alternative, filling in with smaller pieces and placing joints where they don't belong, is usually unacceptable because it can compromise the structure and change the appearance.

Besides the green advantage of recycling, using salvaged stone instead of new saved the owners of Treat Hall a significant amount of money.

About Building Restoration Specialties
Located in Denver, Building Restoration Specialties was founded in 1986 and incorporated in 1996. With a bonding capacity of approximately $7 million, BRS is positioned to handle projects ranging from $2,000 to over $2 million. Respected throughout the region for its high quality and historically accurate work, BRS is dedicated to preserving our architectural heritage using techniques and materials that always conform to state and National historic preservation guidelines. Learn more at