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The Role of Retrofitting in Building a More Sustainable Future

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Discussion of sustainable construction focuses almost entirely on how to design the buildings of the future. But what about the buildings of the past? Name your major city, and chances are the vast majority of its buildings were built during the 20th century. Since the average life expectancy of these structures extends beyond our lifetimes, their existence must be considered when planning for the cities of the future.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the role of retrofitted buildings in planning for a more sustainable future:

Inherently eco-friendly

Fixing an older building to make it inhabitable in the modern age is inherently eco-friendly. That’s because, rather than building from scratch, you’re utilizing the building materials already in place. In other words, it requires fewer materials than a structure built from the ground up. That means less demand for natural resources used to fabricate these materials. Think of it like building a home into a hillside, where the backend of the dwelling goes into the earth. You’d need far fewer materials than you would if building a square-shaped log cabin in the middle of the forest. The same principle applies if renovating an old house where 75% of the original structure is salvageable.

Inevitably innovative

The essence of retrofitting comes down to ingenious adaptation. After all, you’re taking old construction and finding a way to merge it with modern technology. That calls for innovation. In doing so, architects, builders, and designers contribute to the art and science of green construction. Let’s be honest: green construction methods remain a work in progress. We live in an age where the path to a more sustainable future unfolds in real-time. With this in mind, it pays for people to work hard to think of ways to retrofit old buildings to make them more eco-friendly. They lay the groundwork for the future, where builders and designers will be working with existing structures more than tasked with designing new ones from whole-cloth.

Inspiringly imaginative

Innovation is one thing. Imagination is another. Given enough time, green building design will feature incredible examples of creativity – as far as engineering and architecture are concerned. For instance, while everyone is swept up in the idea of skyscrapers being towers of concrete and steel…others see them as vertical villages, complete with a sense of community, local government, and self-sustained economy. After all, the population of a theoretical superstructure can be as high as a small town. With this in mind, a mega tall skyscraper can – in theory – be its own little city. It’s something to think about!

Incredibly practical

It’s often said necessity is the mother of invention. With this in mind, it’s no surprise the essence of eco-friendly retrofits comes down to the most sensible solution available. With this in mind, your choice of contractor may prove the most critical decision of them all. From Networx reviews to word-of-mouth information, take the time to learn as much as you can about contractors specializing in sustainable retrofits. Doing so makes it more likely you find someone who can take a sensible approach to sustainable efforts to retrofit an existing property.

Consistently cost-effective

Say what you want about pouring money into renovating an old building. It almost always adds up to less cost compared to the alternative. Given the high cost of new building materials, the more original structure you have from the beginning, the better off your budget will be in the end. This is especially true in situations where the existing structure features custom masonry, marble, and other elements, which are very expensive to install today.

Historically significant

Retrofitting older buildings to make them more sustainable means fewer of them get demolished for becoming outdated. Over time, this leads to the development of historical neighborhoods with unique charm and iconic style. Any effort to make an older building more sustainable will inevitably contribute to its historic preservation. In a way, we can credit retrofits with preserving historic buildings. Otherwise, they’d fall to ruin and get demolished within half a century.

As we strive to design more sustainable buildings for the future, effort must also be paid towards finding ways to make older structures equally eco-friendly and energy-efficient. After all, if properly maintained and looked after, a well-made building can last for centuries. It doesn’t get much more sustainable than that!

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