Existing Buildings

Photo: Luke Jones. License: CC BY 2.0.


Conventional wisdom might suggest that structural integrity and other kinds of durability are the keys to designing lasting buildings. Real-world evidence suggests otherwise.

The decision to demolish is typically complicated, emotional, and entwined in local political, social, and economic concerns. It’s often more related to deferred maintenance and occupant dissatisfaction—factors that feed a vicious cycle of long-term building degradation.

One thing is clear, though: the embodied impacts of renovation are usually dramatically lower than the impacts of new construction. Here you’ll learn why this is, some strategies for saving buildings, and how to decide when something is just ready to be torn down.

  • Cost-Effective Green Retrofits: Opportunities for Savings in Existing Buildings

    Feature Article

    Between lighting, water use, mechanical systems, the building envelope, and occupant health, existing buildings are rife with cost-effective retrofits and operational opportunities that also offer environmental benefits. Improvements range from the painfully obvious to the more complex and involved.

  • Historic Preservation and Green Building: A Lasting Relationship

    Feature Article

    Rehabilitation of existing buildings is important to sustainability in buildings, but with historic buildings, green building and preservationism can diverge. With attention to preservation standards and suitable application of green strategies, however, those agendas can be aligned.

  • Six Ways Existing Buildings Can Save the Planet

    Feature Short

    Renovations, retrofits, and better-informed O&M will determine how quickly the developed world slows its carbon emissions.