Recent research concludes that, when comparing buildings of equivalent size and function, building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new…or as we’ve come to term it, the greenest building is the one already built
A recent report produced by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and called “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse,” offers statistical validation. The report, offers policy-makers, building owners, developers, architects and engineers compelling evidence of the merits of reusing existing buildings as opposed to tearing them down and building new.
• Reuse Matters. The study finds that the majority of building types in different climates will take between 20-30 years to compensate for the initial carbon impacts from construction. Energy Efficient new construction can take between 10 to 80 years to overcome the climate change impacts created by its construction.
• Scale Matters. Collectively, building reuse and retrofits substantially reduce climate change impacts. Retrofitting, rather than demolishing and replacing, just 1% of the city of Portland’s office buildings and single family homes over the next ten years would help to meet 15% of their county’s total CO2 reduction targets over the next decade.
• Design Matters. The environmental benefits of reuse are maximized by minimizing the input of new construction materials. Renovation projects that require many new materials can reduce or even negate the benefits of reuse.
Historic rehabilitation has a thirty-two year track record of creating 2 million jobs and generating $90 billion in private investment. Studies show residential rehabilitation creates 50% more jobs than new construction. Rah! Rah! Adaptive reuse.
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