Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse

The Pacific Northwest Publishing building by 2fORM Architecture: An excellent example of building reuse in lieu of demolition and new construction

The Eugene Branch of the Cascadia Green Building Council regularly offers free, lunchtime educational events promoting the design, construction, and operation of buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live, work, and learn. The presentations are open to the public and cover a broad range of topics related to sustainable design. 

This month’s event features Ralph DiNola, LEED Fellow and principal at Green Building Services, Inc. Ralph will describe a groundbreaking, whole-building, life cycle assessment study, for which Green Building Services was a major contributor, entitled The Green Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse. The study computes the environmental impacts related to materials manufacture, transport, construction, operation, and the demolition and disposal of common building types, and compares these impacts to those associated with building renovation and reuse. It is the most comprehensive analysis to date comparing the impacts of new and existing buildings. 

Before this study, specific data was scant about the climate change reductions inherent in the reuse and retrofitting of existing buildings. In his presentation, Ralph will detail how building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction. Moreover, he will describe how many decades may pass before a new energy-efficient building overcomes the carbon expended during the extraction and processing of its construction materials and assembly. The bottom line: building reuse almost always yields fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing buildings of similar size and functionality. 

Most climate scientists agree that action in the immediate timeframe is crucial to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. The reuse of existing buildings offers an important means of avoiding unnecessary carbon outlays and helps communities achieve their near term carbon reduction goals. 

Ralph’s philosophy is that adaptive reuse makes environmental sense, business sense, and cultural sense by maintaining tangible connections to our past while enhancing our communities for the future. He is actively involved in the ongoing evolution of the historic preservation and green building movements. It was my privilege to collaborate with Ralph and his firm on the design of the recently completed Lane Community College Downtown Campus project. I know him as an influential green building leader and researcher doing his part to teach by example, make less mean more, and shape a more resource-efficient design and construction industry. 

Don’t miss Ralph’s presentation. See the event details below; RSVP soon as space is limited.

What:  Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse, a presentation by Ralph DiNola of Green Building Services, Inc. GBCI approved for 1 CE hour, details available at event. 

When:  Tuesday, April 23, 2013  12:00 PM – 1:00 PM 

Where:  Bascom-Tykeson Room, Eugene Public Library, 100 West 10th Avenue 

Cost:  Free 


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