June 24, 2011

Creative retrofitting of existing commercial and residential structures:

Creative retrofitting of existing commercial and residential structures:In recent months we have been getting approached more often in the US market by clients that want to know how to make their buildings more energy efficient and sustainable.  The initial answer, which most clients find surprising, is to make a change in habit.  A simple shift in the way a client thinks could reduce operating, maintenance and investment costs.  For example turning off lights when they are not being used and watering the landscaping at night.  There is almost always an opportunity to be more efficient with energy and resources.  These small steps can have large impacts on local, state, national and even global scales.  The second step is technically and financially more challenging and needs to be evaluated carefully.  Every product replaced has some amount of embodied energy in it, more if it is removed before the end of it's life cycle.  The approach taken by the client must offset these two losses plus the investment of the new product in order to make a difference for the client and have an impact at a larger scale.  At PARAVANT Architects we typically study the envelope condition and building equipment to determine if the energy/resource gains are large enough and financially feasible to make the upgrades.  The process can be implemented in stages, however a holistic approach in the way the client uses the building is required in order for it to be a success for the wallet and the environment.