The existing commercial building stock in the US is roughly about 75-80 billion square feet (extrapolated from 2003 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption (CBEC) data). Retrofitting existing buildings to increase efficiency and seismic safety represents an enormous market opportunity with environmental benefits.
Research conducted by National Trust for Historic Preservation and published in the report, The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse provides data that the greenest building is one that’s already standing. The environmental case is pretty intuitive in that existing building retrofits use about half as much material as new construction. The economic benefit of retrofitting existing building is jobs. Building renovations use twice the labor as new construction.
Photo: Innovative radiant panel technology in the ODOT building - By Julie Waters
The renovation of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Headquarters in Salem is a good example of the economic, environmental and safety benefits of retrofitting an existing building. The ODOT building renovation webpage provides a summary of the various aspect of the renovation project which range from purchasing local produced wood products and solar panels, to using rainwater for toilet flushing, to saving electricity through increased daylighting and the use of innovative radiant panel technology to heat and cool the building. Or check out the April 1, 2012 article in the Statesman Journal.