A site that is much too common: a building being demolished. Instead, it should in most cases be renovated and reused. According to one study, “in almost all cases, retrofit yields better environmental outcomes than demolition and new construction.”

From a study coauthored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation
and the Cascadia Green Building Council, The Greenest Building: Quantifying the
Environmental Value of Building Reuse .

It takes from 20 – 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to compensate for the environmental loss of the building it replaces. For most building types, it takes about 25 years before the savings in operating energy equals the nerdy required to build anew. Prioritizing the focus on reducing the operating energy required by buildings is significant, it is just as important to reduce the embodied (embedded) energy required to build new buildings because that energy has an immediate effect on global warming.

“The greenest building is the one that already exists!” – Carl Elefante

“New green buildings are not reducing global warming; they are only reducing the growth of global warming. Instead, existing buildings can reduce global warming.”

Even if the building could not be saved, it could still be recycled. By a process of deconstruction, it could be taken apart, the component parts could be either recycled (concrete, steel, lumber, etc.) or reused (windows, doors, bricks, etc.). Instead, most buildings end up as land fill, with their resources and embodied energy completely lost.

Each design objective described herein is significantly important, yet it is just one aspect of what it takes to achieve a successful project. A truly successful project is one where project goals are identified early on and where the interdependencies of all building systems are coordinated concurrently from the planning and programming phase.

All design objectives and their interrelationships must be understood, evaluated, and appropriately applied.