Upcycling older buildings

to create healthier, sustainable spaces.

Upcycling older buildings

At some point, we must look at existing sites for the purpose of finding space for new projects. And yet the impacts of total knock-down-rebuild-style developments on the environment and the community are huge. Demolishing and rebuilding a new building – no matter how sustainable that building is intended to be upon completion – typically creates far more carbon emissions than upcycling an existing property.

Upcycling really is the way to go – designing and building smarter for better long-term outcomes. Sounds too good to be true? With the right team, it’s possible. In fact, people are doing it all over the world. 

Creating Sustainable Space

You may be thinking: “Can’t I just build a new property with more sustainable features? Isn’t it the same thing?” Well, no. It’s not. Here’s why:

A study by Seattle-based sustainability group Preservation Green Lab found that upcycling older buildings is nearly always the eco-friendlier alternative to building new. The study also found that it can take up to 80 years for newly built “energy-efficient” buildings to cancel out all the energy that went into building it in the first place.

Taking older, unused commercial buildings and turning them into healthier, sustainable spaces not only helps to lessen negative impacts on the environment and surrounding community, but also results in improved aesthetic and commercial appeal of otherwise neglected spaces. Many of these original buildings were created at a time when little to no consideration was given to sustainability. So why not remedy that in your next project?


On a community level, revamped commercial spaces create healthier, happier workplaces. More businesses are turning to commercial sustainability and eco-friendly programs in a bid to entice millennials into their talent pools – a workforce majority who favours sustainability-led initiatives amongst employers. Newly sustainable and healthy buildings also benefit from upgraded systems that allow for more comfortable working conditions. Happier employees have a substantial impact on a business’ bottom line. And if this impact piggybacks off an energy and cost-efficient building – well isn’t that an ideal solution for everyone?

And let’s not forget, upcycling and revamping an existing building usually has a far lesser negative impact on surrounding properties, roads, traffic, and commuters. If you have the right construction management team paired with the right contractors on your side, the time it takes to upcycle an older building can be significantly less than building new.

Positive Community

In general, more sustainable buildings are usually held in a higher regard by community members, resulting in more positive community engagement. With less disruption and increased appeal, everybody wins!

Profitable Investment

On an investment level, well it’s no secret that increasing the structural “health” and sustainability of a building adds commercial desirability and therefore value. Market demand for more eco-friendly or “green” buildings has been rising steadily in recent years and there’s no sign of slowing. Upcycled, sustainable buildings have lower operating costs, and – if done right – can be more a cost-effective project in comparison to new builds or knockdown-rebuilds. Needless to say, the potential for a great ROI on an upcycled, newly sustainable building is definitely there in today’s market. Again, providing you have the right people on your team.

"Upcycling and remodelling older buildings, turning them into healthy, sustainable work and community spaces. In many ways, it simply beats building new."

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