May 4, 2017

Retrofit = Preservation + Sustainability

At BKSK, we specialize in Preservation+ Sustainability, so the topic of sustainable retrofitting is of particular interest to us. We believe that history, context, and the environment possess inherent value, and newer isn’t always better.

This week, BKSK Partner Julie Nelson penned a piece for Urban Green titled “Don’t Throw Away Our Buildings!” recapping the results of a study using the UN campus renovation project to make the case for retrofitting existing structures as a more sustainable alternative to replacing them.

Julie’s post references a new study led by Michael Adlerstein, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director for the UN Capital Master Plan, and prepared by Vidaris, Inc. with Syska Hennessy Group, which analyzed the renovation of the UN Campus. The report focused both on the innovative sustainable solutions, and perhaps as importantly, on the comparative analysis of embodied and operational carbon emission that allowed them to assess the impact of these strategies over time. The findings of the report, presented at last week’s UN HQ Report: The Carbon Case for Retrofits at Urban Green, confirmed what many architects and preservationists have been trying to prove for years – that existing buildings have embodied value in terms of carbon and energy that would take decades to recoup. The potential impact of this project and study are significant for the future of preservation and sustainable development.

“More than just preserving an important cultural landmark, the renovation provided an opportunity for the UN to demonstrate to the world their commitment to addressing climate change by using modern building technologies and techniques. This study goes a long way to advocate for a better understanding and accounting of the true cost of demolition and makes a strong case for retrofits and renovations.”

We encourage you to view the Julie’s blog entry in its entirety at Urban Green. (Image courtesy Urban Green)