Study will Shed Light on Value of Building Reuse
While much research in recent years has explored the merits of constructing new green buildings, there’s relatively little data available about the economic and environmental benefits of building reuse. That will soon change thanks to an innovative partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C.; Green Building Services, Portland, Ore.; and Cascadia Green Building Council, Seattle. The three groups are joining forces to design and execute a study that has the potential to reshape the way people think about the existing built environment.
The ground-breaking study will quantify the value of building reuse in a number of different situations. For example, the study will examine the types of environmental impacts avoided when homeowners reuse and retrofit an existing house rather than tear one down and construct a new green home in its place.
“We can’t build our way out of the climate-change crisis. We have to conserve our way out, and this study provides us with a unique and crucial opportunity to help people understand the environmental value of building reuse,” says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Ultimately, it is our hope that this study will provide the green-building industry, residential and commercial building owners, developers and policy makers with the information they need to make informed choices about the reuse and retrofit of existing buildings.”
The study, which is made possible by a grant from the Summit Foundation, will employ a life-cycle assessment evaluation to look at the differences between energy, carbon, water and other environmental impacts in new construction and building reuse. The LCA study will examine a variety of building types in four regions of the U.S. with the goal of gaining a sophisticated understanding of when and why building reuse makes the most fiscal and environmental sense. This research requires a comprehensive understanding not only of existing buildings, building materials and methods, but also of the numerous development forces at play in shaping the built environment, many of which cannot be easily quantified.
The study is expected to be completed in early 2011.