Given that buildings are responsible for 40% of global energy consumption, it’s desirable to improve their operational efficiency in the process of preserving them in general. But there’s a crucial caveat: embodied energy must be factored into the project. Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all the processes necessary for the production of a building, from the processing of natural resources into construction materials to the transport of those materials and workers to the site. Overly ambitious, “green” retrofits can cancel out their potential environmental benefits if the energy saved over time is less than the initial energy investment.
SUPERSTRUCTURES has long subscribed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s assertion that “the greenest building is one already built,” focusing on maintaining and preserving existing structures. This inherently avoids the formidable carbon footprint of demolition and new construction. It’s been calculated that the manufacture, delivery, and installation of one square foot of new brick wall consumes the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline. So it makes good environmental sense to preserve the building stock we have whenever possible. Our track record of Lucy G. Moses Preservation awards from the New York Landmarks Conservancy (ten so far) attests to our commitment to the goal of responsible preservation that improves the future performance of buildings while honoring their past.
See more about our approach to environmental responsibility here.
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