Many cities and countrysides are home to old, abandoned buildings—from warehouses to lighthouses to churches. Adaptive reuse offers a way to breathe new life into abandoned historic structures.
Aside from the historical and community benefits from retaining these old buildings, it is also a more environmentally sustainable way to build. The building industry is responsible for 39% of all CO2 global emissions, of which 11% are associated with construction, and adaptive reuse projects play a role in working to reduce these emissions.
One of the main environmental benefits of reusing buildings is the retention of the original building’s “embodied energy”. The CSIRO defines embodied energy as the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the acquisition of natural resources to product delivery, including mining, manufacturing of materials and equipment, transport and administrative functions. By reusing buildings, their embodied energy is retained, making the project much more environmentally sustainable than entirely new construction. New buildings have much higher embodied energy costs than buildings that are adaptively reused.
Added to these environmental benefits are the slowing of urban sprawl, maintaining cultural heritage, potentially lower construction costs, quicker construction timelines and the unique and character-filled buildings they create.
You can read about some of our favourite recent adaptive reuse projects by clicking on the images
Nadine is the founder and editor of Eco Edition and founder of the Eco Edition Design School. She’s an experienced interior designer, sustainable materials consultant, speaker and serial home renovator.