The Preservation Green Lab report makes a strong argument for the reuse of buildings over new construction. What would your approach be (material selection, buildings to target first, etc.) if Boston were to focus on retrofitting existing buildings over new constructions?
Nowadays, many organizations and different community representatives prefer to focus on the advantages of retrofitting and reusing existing buildings instead of replacing any or all of them. The main reason for such a decision may be explained by the inability to predict climate change and prevent all possible problems.
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Therefore, to minimize damage, reduce costs, and provide safety for the citizens of Boston, it is suggested to focus on retrofitting such buildings as those with a high level of energy performance, considering characteristics such as design, typology, and survivability, as well as those with a long history that is repairable although their condition may be questionable (Preservation Green Lab 18). Though it may appear to be easier to remove a building and create a new one in order to meet all necessary standards and requirements, retrofitting has its own value.
Therefore, in Boston, one of the main approaches in support of retrofitting existing buildings can be the identification of the first targets and soliciting the opinions of the population about the importance of the chosen buildings. Sometimes, people are prepared to remove a building and accept a new one instead of preservation and retrofitting. At other times, people do not want to lose a building because the building is a part of their history and the past. In such a case, new materials, reports, and research are required to clarify the strategy that can be more effective for a region.
In The Greenest Building reading, one of the study’s findings was that it takes 10 to 80 years for a new building that is 30% more efficient than an average-performing existing building to overcome, through operations, the negative climate change impacts related to the construction process. How can this finding be used to update building codes and regulations, building owner decision-making, and design and construction practices and processes?
The impact of climate change cannot be ignored in the building industry because almost every decision must be made in the light of the environmental outcomes of the chosen construction, as well as consideration of the factors that may influence the durability of this construction. The developers of the Greenest Building report underline that special care and steps have to be taken by the government to minimize environmental impacts and select appropriate projects (Preservation Green Lab 84). This finding can be used to improve the existing codes and regulations by keeping designs simple, controlling energy, and reducing carbon products.
Improved regulations can make people use material with appropriate durability to prolong the existence of a building. A life cycle assessment (LCA) serves to measure and understand the connection between the environment, products, and services (Preservation Green Lab 14). The recycling factor must be taken into account because it has a direct impact on the environment. Finally, designers and architects can improve their cooperation and communication to discuss all important aspects along with the most effective solutions for their regions.
How can energy audits be used as a tool for determining the potential benefits of building reuse?
Energy audits can be used in several ways to determine the benefits of building reuse. Baechler and Strecker describe an energy audit as an effective assessment tool with the help of which it is possible to determine where and why energy is used and how its use can be improved (2). With the help of such audits, designers are able to clarify whether their building decisions can achieve positive results and reduce energy efficiency levels relevant to numerous discussions about environmental impacts.
Energy costs must be reduced, and if audits can help this goal to be achieved, they cannot be neglected. Information about energy use is gathered from different sources to reach the best solution and make a justified choice. Energy audits have several levels (I, II, and III), and each facilitates obtaining the required portion of information (Baechler and Strecker 2). At each level, designers can investigate the potential benefits and shortfalls of their buildings in terms of the current climate situation and the environmental awareness of the population.
Baechler, Michael, and Cindy Strecker. A Guide to Energy Audits. 2011. Web.
Preservation Green Lab. The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse. 2011. Web.