Carl Elefante, Director of Sustainability for Quinn Evans Architects, was quoted saying "The greenest building is the one already standing."
Seems logical, doesn't it?
Yet many times, construction practices that use "earth friendly" building practices or structures that feature the latest in earth friendly technology grab the headlines. However, these notions may be beginning to change, for the better.
In 2012, "The greenest building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse" was released. The report uses Life Cycle Analysis to compare the impacts of building reuse versus new construction.
Some key points from this study;
1.Building reuse almost always yields fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing size and functionality.
Based on extensive data compiled for this study, it takes between 10 - 80 years for a new building that is 30% more efficient than an average building it replaces to overcome the negative impacts of new construction. Did you read that? As much as 80 YEARS!
2.Reuse of buildings with an average level of energy performance consistently offers immediate climate change impact reductions compared to more energy efficicent new construction. In fact, it takes on average 42 years for the energy efficient newly constructed building to justify the destruction and replacement of the existing building from an environmental impact standpoint.
3. Materials really matter. The quantity and type of materials used in building renovation can reduce, or even negate, the benefits of reuse.
To put it all in perspective, responsible reuse of existing buildings is typically the greenest choice!
If you'd like to learn more, check out treehugger.com.