What is the Energy Impact New Construction vs Rehab Existing Structures
Given material shortages and rising prices, now is a great time to consider the possibilities of the existing inventory of commercial buildings. Per a recent article in Retrofit magazine, the key is to think of these decaying and underused buildings as a resource rather than an obstacle to be removed.
1970s era commercial buildings are an excellent comparison, as they represent a building stock with some the worst energy performance. According to 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data, buildings constructed in the 1970s account for approximately 12 percent of the commercial building stock in the U.S.
If these buildings were demolished and rebuilt with new buildings, the environmental cost to extract, transport, construct and install would come at a significant cost. These buildings represent nearly 11 billion square feet, and authors Julia Siple and Kelsey Wotila estimate the impact of tearing down and replacing them with new construction to be about 572 million metric tons of carbon.
Renovation of existing buildings would also be financially costly but offers a significant difference in energy and carbon savings. If this same stock of 1970 buildings were renovated to be 10% more efficient the calculations predict an annual savings of 16 million metric tons of carbon through operational energy savings or a savings equal to reducing running four coal power plants a year.
The article concluded that 1970 era commercial buildings represent the greatest opportunities to impact energy consumption and carbon emissions. Demolishing and replacing these resource-hungry buildings would come at greater energy consumption and would take decades to recoup energy and carbons savings.
Achieving optimal efficiency requires the consideration of a variety of factors. Not sure which windows, doors, curtainwall, or storefront is right for your project? Call to discuss options or contact us for a quote.