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Factors inuencing the adaptive re-use of buildings

Peter Bullen and Peter Love
Department of Construction Management, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia
Purpose Adaptive re-use enables a building to suit new conditions. It is a process that reaps the benet of the embodied energy and quality of the original building in a sustainable manner. Initiatives to improve the sustainability of buildings have tended to focus on new construction projects rather than existing ones. One reason is the tendency to regard old buildings as products with a limited useful life that have to be eventually discarded and demolished. Much of the existing building stock will still be in use for another 100 years. Thus, there is a need to develop policy and strategies that encourage adaptive re-use and the ongoing sustainability of building stock. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive review of the factors inuencing the decision to adopt an adaptive re-use strategy. Design/methodology/approach Adaptive re-use is beginning to receive attention, yet there is a lack of consensus as to whether it is an appropriate strategy for meeting the changing needs and demands of developers, occupiers and owners for existing building stock. Considering the limited published research on adaptive re-use in buildings, particularly in the context of sustainability, a comprehensive review of the normative literature is undertaken to determine the factors inuencing the decision-making process for its use. Findings It is revealed that the major drivers for adaptive focus on lifecycle issues, changing perceptions of buildings, and governmental incentives. The barriers to re-use, on the other hand, include a perception of increased maintenance costs, building regulations, inertia of development criteria and the inherent risk and uncertainty associated with older building stock. The identication of drivers and barriers has enabled a balanced view of the adaptive re-use debate to be presented. Research limitations/implications The paper concludes that more empirical research is required to examine the role of adaptive re-use in the context of its contribution to sustainability if it is to become an effective strategy that drives the formulation of public policy for addressing the issues associated with existing building stock. Practical implications The research identies key adaptive re-use issues that need to be addressed by policy makers, developers and owners during the formative stages of the design process so that efforts toward sustainability can be ameliorated. Addressing a buildings adaptive re-use will signicantly reduce whole life costs, waste and lead to the improved building functionality. Originality/value This paper provides policy makers and key decision makers with the underlying factors that need to be considered when implementing an adaptive re-use policy as part of their sustainability strategy. Keywords Buildings, Sustainable development Paper type General review

Received 2 June 2009 Accepted 30 September 2009

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology Vol. 9 No. 1, 2011 pp. 32-46 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1726-0531 DOI 10.1108/17260531111121459

Introduction Adaptive re-use has become an integral strategy to ameliorate the nancial, environmental and social performance of buildings (Langston et al., 2007). The Department of Environment and Heritage (2004) denes adaptive re-use as a process that changes a disused or ineffective item into a new item that can be used for a different purpose. Continual demand for new and improved operational and sustainability

performance will invariably require the demolition of existing buildings, particularly as land availability becomes scarce. Yet, it has been estimated that buildings that require demolition account for only 0.5-1 per cent of the existing stock with the remainder having a further 30-50 years of life (Petersdorff et al., 2004; Nye and Rydin, 2006; Hakkinen, 2007). In fact, Shah and Kumar (2005b) proffer that in the case of signicant public buildings their life could extend in excess of 80 years. With the life of buildings being extended adaptive re-use will play a pivotal role in meeting the increasing demand for facilities and regeneration of the built environment (Kurul, 2007; Langston et al., 2007). Until recently, demolition decisions have been based on economic factors and as a result buildings have been demolished prematurely (Langston et al., 2007). Traditionally, the opportunities to maximize plot ratios provided by demolition have been a more attractive investment proposition for developers than building re-use. The disposal of buildings has often been prompted by the perception that they need replacing simply because they are old or inefcient. There are signs that this mindset is changing as more is being spent on refurbishing and reusing buildings than constructing new ones with re-use becoming a prominent strategy (Douglas, 2002; Ball, 2002; Latham, 2000; de Valence, 2004; Property Council of Australia, 2004; Langston et al., 2007). With this in mind, this paper provides a comprehensive review of the factors inuencing the decision to adopt an adaptive re-use strategy. As there has been limited published research on adaptive re-use in buildings, particularly in the context of sustainability it is envisaged that the review presented will provide the building blocks for further research in this contemporary and contentious area. Demolition, redevelop and re-use The shift to building re-use and adaptation has become an increasing trend within the built environment (Ball, 1999; Bon and Hutchinson, 2000; de Valence, 2004; Gallant and Blickle, 2005; Kohler, 2006; Bradley and Kohler, 2007; van Beuren and de Jong, 2007). In many cases, increasing the life of a building through re-use can lower material, transport and energy consumption and pollution and thus make a signicant contribution to sustainability (Douglas, 2002; Gregory, 2004; Remoy and van der Voordt, 2007; Velthuis and Spennemann, 2007). There is ubiquitous convergence researchers that adaptation can make a signicant contribution to the sustainability of existing buildings (Brand, 1994; Pickard, 1996; Cooper, 2001; Balaras et al., 2004; Bromley et al., 2005; Kurul, 2007). There is also a growing perception that it is cheaper to convert old buildings to new uses than to demolish and rebuild (Vanegas et al., 1995; Ball, 2002; Department of Environment and Heritage, 2004; Douglas, 2002; Gregory, 2004; Pearce, 2004). It has been suggested that the longevity of most buildings can be detrimental because any inherent negative environmental impact will be spread over long periods (Itard and Klunder, 2007). Such longevity also raises technical problems, particularly with respect to the durability of external fabric and nishes. When the external fabric of a building begins to deteriorate then this can cause signicant problems when considering re-use. Ball (1999) suggests that such technical challenges require a wide range of renovation and refurbishment techniques. In many cases this involves nding innovative solutions that can be applied within the constraints imposed upon the design team and contractor (Shipley et al., 2006).

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The relative costs, related benets and constraints of re-use versus demolition and new build have received widespread debate. Hall (1998), Douglas (2006) and Kohler and Yang (2007) have proffered that the costs of reusing buildings are lower than the equivalent costs of demolition. It is potentially cheaper to adapt than to demolish and rebuild inasmuch as the structural components already exist, and the cost of borrowing is reduced, as contract periods are typically shorter. Refurbishing to sustainability standards can, however, generate a cost uplift of 3-12 per cent over the cost of a standard re-use project (Shipley et al., 2006; Ellison et al., 2007). Buildings are generally demolished because they no longer have any value (Kohler and Yang, 2007). In most cases it is the market that sets this value, even though such an assessment may be based on incomplete information with no consideration given toward externalities. Douglas (2006) maintains that there is considerable value attached to retaining style and character and the so-called solid build qualities of buildings. According to Ball (2003) it is generally preferable to repair a building than replace it because the value of the location and quality of a new building is not necessarily better than the old one. In contrast, ODonnell (2004) suggest that an adapted building will not completely match a new building in terms of performance, but the shortfall should be balanced against gains in social value. Demolition is often selected when the life expectancy of an existing building is estimated to be less than a new alternative despite any improvements that adaptive re-use may inject (Douglas, 2002). According to Davies (2004) this would only justify limited investment on a short-term basis prior to disposal and redevelopment. Certainly the lifecycle expectancy of the materials in an older building may well fall short of those in a new building. The age of materials will also directly affect the ongoing maintenance costs of an adapted building, which, as a result, may well be higher than those for a new building. Adaptive re-use strategies are preferable to demolition if the objectives of environmental sustainability and reduced energy consumption are also to be met (Klunder, 2005; Thomsen and van der Flier, 2006). The central issues are that a static internal environment that cannot be easily adapted is wasteful in terms of sustainability and not warranted in terms of the needs of the occupants. The more exible a building is the quicker and easier to adapt, which represents a saving in the time and productivity lost during ofce churn (Boehland, 2003). Adaptive re-use also offers a more efcient and effective process of dealing with buildings than demolition. This is because it is deemed to be safer as it reduces the amount of disturbance due to hazardous materials, contaminated ground and the risk of falling materials and dust. In particular, site work is also more convenient because the existing building presents a work enclosure that reduces downtime from inclement weather. In a similar vein, Itard and Klunder (2007) have stated that demolition should be regarded as being an environmentally unfriendly process. They found from a renovation study that adapting buildings for a new use generate less waste, uses fewer materials and probably uses less energy than demolition and rebuilding. Evidence clearly suggests that the opportunities created by adaptive re-use generally outweigh those presented by demolition and rebuilding (Ball, 1999; Brand, 1994; Cooper, 2001; Douglas, 2002; Kohler and Hassler, 2002; Petersen, 2002). Building owners and occupiers need to evaluate an array of options when considering discarding, expanding or changing the function of their buildings. The decision process

is inuenced by political, economic, social, environmental and technological factors that act in tandem. These factors inuence the operational efciency of buildings but also their effectiveness in achieving sustainability outcomes. Establishing the viability of adaptive re-use as an option, therefore, relies on identifying and understanding the extent to which both outcomes are inuenced by these factors. The drivers and barriers inuencing the decision to demolish, renovate, refurbish, rebuild and re-use are shown in Figure 1 and are discussed below. Factors driving adaptive re-use A number of factors having been driving the growth of adaptive re-use including cost-effectiveness and the value of it as a practical strategy for delivering buildings for new uses. A key driver has been rising energy costs, which has increased the cost of new construction (e.g. materials, transport, resources) and resulted in clients opting to re-use existing building stock (Douglas, 2002; Kohler and Yang, 2007). Ellison et al. (2007) suggest that rising energy prices will drive property investors to improve the energy efciency of buildings so that they can maintain market demand and rental growth. Signicant growth in the construction of new buildings during the last four decades has created a wealth of built stock and as a result there are many buildings available for refurbishment and re-use (Shah and Kumar, 2005a). Though, many of these buildings were constructed without adherence to environmental performance codes and thus are not as environmentally efcient as new buildings. Adaptive re-use is seen as an alternative way to address this environmental gap by functionally improving a buildings performance while simultaneously reducing its environmental loading. Adaptive re-use is being considered more frequently by building occupiers when they require room to expand within an existing building. The reconguration of space is often a more effective solution than relocation, particularly as re-use is less disruptive (van der Voordt, 2004). Success would, however, critically depend on the adaptability of the space within the existing building. Ellison et al. (2007) suggest that buildings with low exibility are of less value than a more adaptable alternative because they require costly rets to accommodate changing spatial needs. Conversely, buildings that incorporate space that is adaptable to changing needs require less frequent and less costly rets and remain sustainable over longer periods.
Drivers Increased building life Lower material, transport and energy consumption Barriers Condition of external fabric and finishes Environmental loading (+) Maintenance costs Higher rental in reuse buildings Building regulations/planning restrictions Complexity Lack of skilled tradesmen Building layout ( e.g., space efficiencies) Health and safety requirements Commercial risk and uncertainty Low quality construction Sustainability economically, socially and environmentally (+)

Adaptive re-use of buildings


Demolition, renovate, refurbish or re-build Reduced resource consumption Less material waste Decision point Rising energy costs Building functionality Less disruption Adaptive reuse of existing Environmental building stock Reduce negative impact of loading () poor buildings

Changing work patterns Requirement for multiple use Financial incentives

Figure 1. Drivers and barriers of adaptive re-use

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Rents tend to be higher in buildings that have been adapted. Whether occupiers are prepared to offset higher rentals would be dependent on the cost benet analysis of rents and reduced energy bills over the period for which the tenant occupied the building. Needless to say, the cost of upgrades needs to be balanced against current rent levels because occupiers would be reluctant to pay above market rates just because a building is more energy efcient (Ellison et al., 2007). Adair et al. (2003) and de Valence (2004) suggest that the changing preference of building users to adaptive re-use is driven by a commitment to sustainability juxtaposed with the need to improve the aesthetics of existing buildings. Likewise, Yau et al. (2008) state that adaptive re-use creates the opportunity to reduce the negative visual impact of poor quality buildings. This can provide an opportunity to re-life an existing building and optimize its whole lifecycle costs (Shah and Kumar, 2005a). As the needs of owners and occupants continually change, this will invariably drive buildings to be re-used more frequently ( Jones Lang Lasalle, 2005; Lufkin et al., 2005). The rate of re-use frequency will not be ultimately dictated purely by the physical ability of buildings but by changing user expectations (Kohler and Yang, 2007). If response to changing expectations is not met then buildings may experience higher occupancy turnover due to dissatisfaction of occupiers (Ellison and Sayce, 2007). In economic terms the buildings would be less sustainable, because they would experience higher vacancy rates than alternative buildings that are more readily adaptable. The operational energy in commercial buildings has increased signicantly during the last four decades and, therefore, energy improvements through adaptive re-use can provide signicant cost savings for occupiers (Brown, 2006; Bruhns et al., 2006). Accordingly, several Australian Government agencies such as the Green Building Council of Australia (2006) and the Department of Environment and Heritage (2005) have espoused the need to reduce the environmental loading of their buildings and implemented a strategy to retrot. Moreover, the Green Building Council of Australia (2006) has suggested that government should only tenant sustainable buildings. Lifecycle issues The life expectancy of buildings has been identied as an important issue that determines whether they are re-used or demolished (Bradley and Kohler, 2007). Kendall (1999) suggests that by extending the lifecycle of a building the ageing asset, existing failures and resourcing requirements can be dealt with effectively. Addressing such issues enables buildings to be stabilized so that they are able to accommodate new technologies. In addition, it allows for changes in the organization of work and the life-styles of building occupants. Being able to adapt to suit changing working practices, particularly where greater exibility and worker and space efciencies are required, is signicant to investment performance (Ellison et al., 2007). Buildings that can adapt to constant changing market demands would be more sustainable and provide investors with condence as long-term investments. When buildings are constructed for both present requirements and future change, real estate decisions will effectively begin to represent a sustainable investment. Residual service life expectancy is based on matching user requirements to resource availability and the capability of the building over the whole of its lifecycle. Yet, estimating the service life of buildings remains a problematic issue (Lutzkendorf and Lorenz, 2005; Ellison et al., 2007). This is because it can either be based on the end of

the physical life or a clients expected time line for the building. Compounding this problem is the fact that estimation of future maintenance and operating costs of a building requires observation and longitudinal evidence to determine the life of materials and components (Lutzkendorf and Lorenz, 2005). As a result, there may be considerable differences between the estimates produced by building owners and occupiers and those calculated by property investors and developers. Despite these estimation differences the residual service life method is considered to be the most accurate way to estimate the optimum service life of built asset (Shah and Kumar, 2005a). Although the process is complex it prioritizes investment choices in relation to social, economic, environmental and governance factors. In many cases the residual service life expectancy of a building may be less than a new replacement, despite any improvements by adaptive re-use and because the life expectancy of existing materials may fall short of new replacements. This will directly impact ongoing maintenance costs of the adapted building, as they can be higher than those for a new building (Douglas, 2006). Changing perceptions of buildings Hassler et al. (2000) suggests that buildings that are able to provide multiple uses by adaptive re-use are in great demand. Conversely, Velthuis and Spennemann (2007) suggest that other motives such as the growth of appreciation for built heritage is driving the growth in support for adaptive re-use. Despite the increasing demand for adaptive re-use it remains an anathema to many architects and most of the building professions (Gregory, 2004). Many architects believe that adapting older buildings for multiple uses is less prestigious than constructing new ones, and inhibits their creative opportunities. Yet, it is often the constraints that are imposed upon them, which results in innovation and outcomes that are of signicance to the wider community. Older buildings provide an essential platform for providing a social and economic edge to sustainability (Ball, 1999). The use of older properties can enable occupiers at the lower end of the rental market to occupy buildings in locations where normally they would only have the choice of newer buildings at much higher rent levels. Older buildings may present reduced levels of amenity and service, but they are an affordable resource that can be exploited by new or less protable organizations. Eventual commercial success by these organizations may in the long term generate opportunities for them to either upgrade their buildings through adaptive re-use or relocate to new ones. The European Union (2001) and Myers and Wyatt (2004) suggest that regeneration of urban property, particularly older buildings, generally pursues the sustainable development tenet of economic growth. Unfortunately, retrotting older buildings with equipment and service upgrades to improve energy efciency can be a difcult and expensive process. Such improvements, however, can achieve as much as 20 per cent energy savings with a payback period of one to two years (Bradford, 2007). Continual urban growth, coupled with an increase in demand for commercial and residential space, generates the prospect of stock shortages for the foreseeable future until new ofce buildings have been developed (APCC, 2002). As a result, where tenants in the past have been offered low rents and incentives to occupy buildings, it has been predicted that in future they will struggle to nd large amounts of contiguous space in the business districts of cities (Property Council of Australia, 2006). This type of prediction tends to

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drive developers to increase their available building stock by adapting existing and heritage buildings for new uses. Incentive schemes Government agencies are prime candidates to implement an adaptive re-use strategy because of their large property portfolios. Having a large stock in place enables agencies to develop organization wide plans and adopt a strategic screening process to select the most appropriate buildings to adapt and re-use (California Commissioning Collaborative, 2006). According to Barber (2003) and Shipley et al. (2006) government agencies can also encourage development, particularly in the case of heritage buildings, through the use of nancial incentives. This has generally not been the case, however, for example, Green Building Council of Australia (2006) has been critical of the government, as it has eschewed supporting, leading and providing incentives for adaptive re-use. The lack of incentive invariably results in adaptive re-use becoming an unappealing exercise for developers. This is further exacerbated by the often inconsistent application of local authority requirements. The varying interpretation of requirements that affect re-used buildings can lead to myopic decisions being made by developers when consider they are confronted with retaining or demolishing a building. In swaying developers to embrace sustainability, government clearly needs to generate policy initiatives that encourage adaptive re-use. One such strategy is to introduce a degree of exibility to planning requirements, so that proposals for buildings that enable a range of different uses in the future become viable. Moreover, Kincaid (2000) suggests that building codes should incorporate a set of reusability criteria but the code should not be relaxed to simply accommodate re-use issues. The City of Los Angeles Adaptive Reuse Program (2004), for example, uses an ordinance to streamline the application process and provide more exibility in meeting building code and zoning requirements. The ordinances introduce nancial incentives to provide income and property tax reductions and construction incentives that offer additional exibility in meeting building code requirements. Buildings being adapted still have to satisfy planning and building code requirements but are subject to exemptions where non-compliance is not possible. Key areas that create problems for older buildings to comply with building codes during adaptive re-use are re protection, disabled access and parking allocation requirements. The building code in Ontario, Canada, has inbuilt exibility for these areas, which allows inspectors to accept alternative standards to encourage adaptive re-use, but at the same time still maintain standards of safety. A similar example can be found in Western Australia where most town planning schemes allow some discretion for parking requirements. The use of subsidies and incentives for adaptive re-use by public organizations such as the Urban Renewal Authority and Housing Society of Hong Kong are helping to mitigate the problem of urban decay (Langston et al., 2007). Yau et al. (2008) state that the benets of such incentives are not conned to upgrading buildings but have the ow-on effect of increasing the values of adjacent property. Encouraging adaptive re-use may involve a series of steps, which include making inventories of potential adaptive re-use sites, amending local zoning regulations, arranging for possible property transfers of publicly owned buildings, and providing assistance in obtaining sources of funding such as loans, grants and rent subsidies (Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, 1997).


The Commission of the European Union (2002) issued a directive that member states were required to introduce legislation to make existing buildings more energy efcient. This also ensured the incorporation of energy improvements during the refurbishment and adaptive re-use of buildings. According to Lutzkendorf and Lorenz (2005) similar initiatives are being made in Australia, Canada and the USA, together with the introduction of incentives such as tax credits and subsidy programs. The Green Building Council of Australia (2006) state that government should generate tax incentives to enable building owners to address the poor environmental performance of existing buildings. Such incentives would naturally ensure that the high levels of energy consumption, resource use and emissions generated by buildings are reduced. Barriers to adaptive re-use The complexity associated with converting an old building to new uses is a major determinant facing adaptive re-use projects (Kurul, 2007). This is because older buildings typically do not provide voids or access ways and sufcient room to retrot modern services such as air-conditioning. Overcoming this problem may add to the design and construction time needed to nish the project. Other barriers include unfamiliarity of trades people with older materials, the necessity of detailed structural evaluation and planning, or the need to work around occupiers of the facility. Despite these barriers, the benets of choosing rehabilitation, over new construction, will generally offset any additional time taken to complete a project (Douglas, 2006). Maintenance The assessment of a buildings physical and operating for adaptive re-use can be a time consuming process and involves a detailed survey of structure and fabric. In some cases, the structure and fabric of buildings may have deteriorated to a point where high levels of maintenance and repair are required, which can affect the buildings usage. In this situation, for example, the building may not be a viable proposition for re-use due to the continuing high maintenance and repair costs. The current layout of a building may also be inappropriate for any change of use, particularly if it contains a large number of columns or internal partition walls. Remoy and van der Voordt (2007) suggest that buildings of this nature are not exible enough to be re-used and have poor spatial quality. Ofce buildings that are functionally or technically outdated for multiple uses and have low visual quality should be demolished. ODonnell (2004) supports this view because older buildings may also not reach the desired standards of new buildings in terms of operating performance. Any shortfalls should, however, be balanced against potential gains in social value from adaptive re-use. Building code compliance An underlying reason for engaging in a re-use project is the need to bring older facilities up to current performance levels, as required by new building codes and regulations (Cooper, 2001). This creates an obstacle to change of use because it may take extensive modications and expense to ensure that older buildings comply. In Western Australia, for example, the performance-based building code allows some exibility in terms of options to satisfy current code requirements, but adaptive re-use may still involve substantial expenditure by the developer. Shipley et al. (2006) states that developers often complain about the inexibility of building codes and other regulations in

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the requirements for reusing buildings. Any consideration for further relaxations for adaptive re-use projects would, however, need to be balanced against the risks it could create for the health and safety of occupants. Classication change Changing the classication of buildings through adaptive re-use may result in zoning changes and the need for compliance with new building codes (Langston et al., 2007). This applies pressure to designers to nd solutions, particularly with older buildings, but there may be compensations for developers in the shape of gaining oor space efciencies. St Lawrence (2003) suggests that urban planners have the opportunity to make a signicant difference to environmental outcomes for development. Yet, they do not always embrace this opportunity because of the lack of resources needed to police the requirements being asked by developers. There are, however, signs that local authorities are starting to take note of sustainability issues such as climate change and reecting this in the requirements of building codes, standards and regulations (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, 2007). Inertia of production and development criteria Many areas of contemporary cities were constructed under a set of production and developmental criteria that were very different from those currently in use (Fothergill et al., 1987; Sabot, 1998). As a result, this poses challenging issues for planners, developers, designers and the like who are striving to improve the environmental performance and sustainability of buildings. In tackling this issue as well as urban decay, regeneration programs can be and have been widely used, though there are drawbacks to this approach. For example, regeneration schemes such as the London Docklands, Swansea Maritime Quarter, Bristol Docklands and Cardiff Bay redevelopments, only produced a limited amount of affordable residential units (Bromley et al., 2005). While such regeneration schemes are good examples of adaptive re-use on a large-scale they did not, therefore, fully satisfy the tenets of sustainability from a social perspective. Commercial risk and uncertainty Many contractors are unwilling to renovate old buildings (Municipal Research & Services Center of Washington, 1997). This is because of the perceived risk that lengthy or difcult renovations may decrease prot margins (Reyers and Manseld, 2001). This is further exacerbated by the difculty of raising nance for adaptive re-use ventures (Shipley et al., 2006). This is often a result of additional risks of re-use including unknown work, scope changes, compatibility of materials, quality of information and the operating environment, health and safety, design constraints and decanting of occupants (Reyers and Manseld, 2001; Cox, 2004). Remoy and van der Voordt (2007) state that a lack of accurate information and drawings for older buildings is an issue that can potentially stymie the re-use process. In addition, the discovery of latent problems, defects or dimensional and material inconsistencies may affect the success of adaptive re-use. ODonnell (2004) suggests that buildings owners would not see any economic benet in updating buildings to sustainability standards. Commercial property markets have only a limited response to the sustainability agenda (Pivo and McNamara, 2005; Ellison and Sayce, 2007).


This has often been blamed on the lack of a suitable business case for procuring sustainable buildings (Pett et al., 2004; Sayce et al., 2007). However, Davies (2004) and Wall (2004) suggest there is a genuine intent by building owners to embrace sustainability. It has been suggested by Gulliver (2004) that failing to upgrade existing buildings to the required sustainability standards limits the market potential for a building. Fundamentally, sustainable buildings perform better economically, socially and environmentally (Zimmerman and Martin, 2001; Kats et al., 2004; Lutzkendorf and Lorenz, 2005) and as a result, reect an improved market performance. Financial and technical perceptions Better knowledge and understanding of the building stock is required so that a comprehensive conservation strategy for adaptive re-use can be propagated. To be effective, this knowledge needs to also encompass the negative as well as positive aspects of reusing buildings. There is a mixture of perceived and factual negative design, technical and operational issues attached to adaptive re-use projects. Where perceptions are strong, they have convinced developers that adaptive re-use would be too expensive and demolition is the only way to acquire a reasonable prot. Unfortunately, this has lead to hundreds of older buildings being prematurely demolished (Shipley et al., 2006). It has been suggested by the Green Building Council of Australia (2006) that there is a lack of value attached to the long-term benets of green buildings. There has been too great a focus on short-term construction and a culture of building cheap for demolition in the future. Itard and Klunder (2007) state that if buildings are produced to low quality standards, their problems in meeting current needs will often be signicant. The extent of the nancial and technical resources needed to solve these problems may preclude adopting renovation, leaving demolition as the only viable solution. Investors and developers typically base their adaptive re-use decisions on perceptions rather than an objective assessment of risk, complexity, cost and value (Kurul, 2007). However, with the rising costs of new construction this trend appears to be reversing as most adaptive re-use projects now compete economically with redevelopment (Bullen, 2007). Moreover, it would appear that developers are beginning to appreciate the values of age, character and architectural quality and pay for space and architectural standards that are not available in equivalent new buildings (Bullen, 2007). The actual costs of adaptive re-use projects still remain very difcult to dene, despite the growing body of evidence that supports their viability compared with demolition and redevelopment. Physical and operational attributes of older buildings vary considerably and consequently the costs of reusing them will also differ in relation to the scope, size and complexity of the works being carried out. For example, a study by Mills et al. (2005) revealed that the cost to carry out the adaptive re-use to a selection of different buildings ranged from US$0.13 to 0.45/sq.ft. The California Commissioning Collaborative (2006) state that the size of a building is a predominant factor in the cost of adaptive re-use and suggest that the larger the building the less it would cost per unit of area. Conclusion The research identies key adaptive re-use issues that need to be addressed by policy makers, developers and owners during the formative stages of the design process so that efforts toward sustainability can be ameliorated. Addressing a buildings adaptive

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re-use will signicantly reduce whole life costs, waste and lead to the improved building functionality. As buildings age their operational performance typically reduces until eventually they fall below the expectations of building owners and occupiers. Apart from the natural depreciation of the buildings fabric and systems their effectiveness is impacted by changing market demands. The resultant declining operating performance is a critical issue that owners and operators have to deal with during the potentially long lifecycles of their buildings. Responding to declining performance frequently results in decisions to demolish and redevelop buildings that are justied purely on economic grounds. The decision to demolish may be premature if it ignores the residual utility and value of buildings that could be optimized by adapting and refurbishing using the process of adaptive re-use. Failing to optimize buildings also means that their residual lifecycle expectancy is not fully exploited which is a basic problem in adopting a more sustainable use of the built stock. The drivers and barriers to implementing an adaptive re-use strategy have been identied from a thorough review of the normative literature. Adaptive re-use is beginning to receive widespread attention because of the economic, social and environmental benets that can be espoused. However, the jury appears to be still out on whether adaptive re-use is the most appropriate strategy for meeting the changing needs and demands of developers, occupiers and owners for exiting building stock. Thus, more empirical research is required to examine the role of adaptive re-use in the context of its contribution to sustainability.

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