Restoring an existing building is often more cost-effective and sustainable than new builds or complete demolitions. Repairing, recladding, and adaptive reuse are all methods building designers and construction professionals can utilize to reduce costs and have a positive effect on the environment.
Adaptive reuse, where existing buildings are repurposed for uses outside of their initial design, has a big impact on the environment as original elements of a building can be maintained, while enhancements are made to other elements. The building’s historical significance is maintained, adding character and a nod to history, while saving construction waste from landfills. The energy consumed by the manufacture of new materials and construction is also minimized.
Reducing construction waste
Matt Nardella, Principal and Founder of architecture and design firm moss says on its company blog, “There is a tremendous amount of construction waste in landfills around the world. It takes a staggering amount of energy to extract, process and ship new building materials. When we can creatively repurpose an existing structure to accommodate a new use we are removing all the typical negative aspects of construction while letting the building tells its story.”
Updating a poor-performing building façade can also impact on energy savings. Aesthetically-pleasing designs are always in demand, and rising energy costs balanced with the desire for creativity presents a challenge for architects.
As Lee Fink, senior project architect at Thorton Tomasetti writes for Facility Executive:
The design of a building’s façade is one of the most efficient ways to passively reduce its energy usage. Glass curtainwalls typically achieve an R-value (measure of a material’s capacity to resist heat flow, with a greater value being more insulative) of approximately R-3, whereas insulated wall systems can achieve R-values greater than R-15. These insulating values are especially important in northern climates where there are more cold days annually and keeping heat from escaping the building envelope is critical.