When people argue for the preservation and reuse of a building, the reason could be for the sake of keeping connections to our past and the soul of a place. There’s also the “we’ll never build another building like this again” factor.
But there’s another reason for preservation and reuse.
Think about all the man-hours someone paid for and the energy someone paid for to transport materials and run equipment to build the building. Then think about the building itself and everything it is made of. When you demolish it, you waste all that effort and cost and you also have the tons of tangible waste and the cost of getting rid of it -- which you really never do
Today's costs are part of the overarching costs that mankind in general incurs no matter what or when our endeavors might be -- past, present or future. It's why we should be prudent about what we build and why we build it. Making money shouldn't be the reason ... but I own dogs and know what happens when you go for the treat bag.
Anyhoo, I tripped across this website today and found a cool tool within: the embodied energy calculator.
As the web site explains, “When a building is torn down for new construction, we loose more than the built resource (and its associated heritage) — we lose embodied energy.
“Every building is a storehouse of nonrecoverable energy. This is the energy that has been spent in its construction, as well as the manufacture and transportation of materials. A “teardown” not only discards the embodied energy of the existing building, but spends that energy again (and likely more, as teardowns average over double the square footage of the structure being replaced) on a new home or other building. If you’re building green, embodied energy analysis begs the question: where is the energy savings? And at what cost?
“The embodied energy calculator represents a rough attempt to quantify this expenditure.
“Adaptive reuse of a vacant building is a smart community choice for sustainable development. If you aren’t acquainted with this phrase, it describes finding a new purpose for a building rather its original use — or the one everyone remembers. A new land use that has more market demand is chosen and developed.
“Building reuse is a simple idea for community improvement, but one that has huge potential to reduce the carbon footprint and solid waste inherent in building demolition and new construction.”