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Existing Buildings - Reuse or Not to Reuse?
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Written by Dale Vanderwerff   
Friday, 27 August 2010 12:36

Reuse of existing buildings versus building new structures is recommended by LEED as one of the most effective ways to minimize environmental impacts while saving money.  First, there is the enormous amount of landfill that occurs when an existing building is torn down along with the fuel and pollution that comes with transporting the demolished building to its final resting place.  Next, there is the landfill site itself and how it affects the local environment, wildlife and water quality.

In comparing the reuse of an existing building to a new structure you must take into consideration the replacement value of the materials that were used to form the existing building.  For example, if you could save the shell of an existing building, you would save on the purchase of the foundation, the brick, and the steel roof structure (among other items) by their reuse.  Not only that, but each of these components would not have to be manufactured, thus saving the natural resources at their source.  With the process of building reuse, both fuel and pollution in manufacturing and the transportation of these new replacement materials would be saved.

Locally the community is having a discussion regarding the Brainerd Building.  It was the original high school building in the Libertyville, Illinois area.  There are community leaders who are trying to save, reuse and give the building a purpose again.  Others do not understand why the community would put money into a building that seems in such disrepair.  It can make economic since, however, if you consider the material values of all that you throw away and its environmental impact upon the demolition of this building.  This is not to mention the interesting architecture that would be preserved and positive community vibes that would come with a restored building of this type.


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