Ultimate Act Of Sustainability


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Building a sustainable future begins with restoring our past.

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Ultimate Act Of Sustainability

  1. 1. SEALANT WATERPROOFING & RESTORATION INSTITUTE • FALL 2010 • 32.3 The Ultimate Act of Sustainability Restoring our past can lead us into a more responsible future Garage Sealed for Success pg. 18
  2. 2. The Ultimate Act of Sustainability Building a sustainable future begins with restoring our past By Christopher Perego f all the drivers in the construction industry, there is The Role of Building Restoration none bigger than sustainability. From government What is building restoration? It’s big. It’s so big that it’s a initiatives and major media outlets, from the little scary. Traditionally, we think of restoration in terms of architect’s office to the job trailer, sustainability waterproofing, caulking, tuckpointing and concrete repair. influences design decisions, material selection and Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines restoration as the act construction methods. At present, the dialogue of preserving assets, returning them to their former position or an around sustainability centers on new construction. improved condition. But it’s more than that—more than buckets Often overlooked, however, is building restoration. and bags, trowels and caulk guns. Restoration is a value—a value that has the power to transform our buildings, our communities, Our buildings and their architecture are an our economy and our environment. expression of our values. As you tour the great cities of the world, you can read the story of these cities Most discussions of sustainability focus on the environmental in their skylines—a rich story worth preserving. impacts of construction: resources, water use, air quality and Building restoration is a sustainable, responsible use energy. These are important issues. However, the challenges we of resources. After all, what is sustainable construction if face go beyond the lot line. Nothing happens in a vacuum. The not preserving what we have already built? effects of construction touch not only the environment but also6 APPLICATOR 32.3 FALL 2010
  3. 3. our economy and our communities. Building restoration is theultimate act of sustainability.“We have to move beyond thinking about doing less harm to somethingthat is more regenerative, restorative, truly loving, adding value.”—Bob Berkabile, principal, BNIM Architects (Kansas City)Restoring Communities—a StartThe recent recession has had a devastating impact on many Restoration is a value – a valueindustries, perhaps none more than construction. The economy’s that has the power to transformimpact has been felt far and wide in this industry, as well as our buildings, our communities, our economy and our environment.adjacent industries that rely on construction. The effects haverippled through communities in the form of unemployment, homeforeclosures and businesses that have closed. But the recessionhas allowed time for a frame reset, too. The boom-bust mentalityof development in North America has needed a change. Movingforward, we need sustainable growth, social change that lasts andconstruction solutions that go beyond doing no harm. We needsolutions that are restorative on all levels. Building restorationcan play a vital role in economic development, communityrevitalization and softening our environmental footprint.In the past, preservation was an intellectual issue—saving placesof historical significance. Today, it has become an environmentalissue, focusing on the need to preserve resources. However, asour building stock ages, the volume of buildings constructed inthe recent past becomes clear; it is immense. Thus, the issue willbecome one of economics, too. America cannot afford to throwthese buildings away. The answer is restoration.The Economic Impact of RestorationThe economic impact of restoration is far and wide. Buildingrestoration projects can be mini-stimulus projects for communities.Someone once remarked, “If you want to put people to work,tuck point a building.” In the book “The Economics of HistoricPreservation,” author Donovan Rypkema lays out arguments forhistoric preservation as an economic development tool. Thesearguments are true not only for historic preservation but forbuilding restoration in general.You’ve probably heard the expression, “All politics are local.” Hereis a new expression: “All restoration is local.” Building restorationcreates jobs. A major component of the cost of restoration is labor,accounting for roughly 60 percent to 70 percent. Because mostWWW.SWRIONLINE.ORG APPLICATOR 7
  4. 4. All restoration is local. Building restoration createsjobs accounting for roughly 60 percent to 70 percentof all costs on a restoration project. jobs hire local labor, wages paid to craftsmen tend to stay within the local community. This results in additional demand for goods and services. “Our research showed that preservation was often a superior economic catalyst compared to other investments.” —David Listokin and Michael L. Lahr, “Economic Impacts of Preservation in New Jersey and Texas,” Forum Journal (2000) In fact, building restoration has a greater impact on local suppliers than new construction. That’s because most materials used to repair and restore buildings are purchased from local businesses. That revenue, in turn, cycles its way through the local economy to create wages, demand for more services and neighborhood tax revenue. Unlike large capital projects, such as sports stadiums or bridges, building restoration projects tend to be incremental. They are smaller in size and scope and, therefore, more affordable to building owners. Additionally, the sheer volume of buildings means a continual supply of opportunity for the industry. Because of these factors, building restoration provides the opportunity to burst the boom-bust bubble of our existing development paradigm. Benefits That Go Beyond the Lot Line As with most things in life, nothing happens in a vacuum. You cannot restore a building on one side of the streetThe sheer volume of buildings needing without having a profound impact on the building on therestoration means a continual supply other side of the street. In addition to economic benefits,of opportunity for the industry.8 APPLICATOR 32.3 FALL 2010
  5. 5. Restoration is an opportunity for us to make an impact on our economy, our communities and the environment.building restoration yields many intangible benefits that are just as benefits of building restoration extend well beyond the lotimportant in creating sustainable development. lines of buildings.The past few decades have seen an exodus out of cities as people “Old one-shot or quick-fix formulas for attracting businesses or buildingmigrated to suburbia and even exburbia—the ring of low-density, sports stadiums or increasing tourist advertising typically fail to deal withautomobile-dependent sprawled cities on the edges of metropolitan the root causes of contemporary place predicaments.”—Philip Kotler,areas. The reasons were many but, in a nutshell, as cities fell into Donald Haider and Irving Rein, “Marketing Places”disrepair, people moved out in search of a higher quality of life.Restoration, then, provides a catalyst for changes in city centers and Restoration3urban neighborhoods. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. This familiar phrase has become the mantra of environmental responsibility. Building restoration fulfills theseBuilding restoration also leads to gentrification—the influx of goals and then some. When we restore a building, we keep wastemiddle class into deteriorating areas. As people move back into out of landfills and make responsible use of existing resources. Thecities, neighborhoods stabilize. Homesteading of properties leads to environmental impact of restoration is profound. What could bea reduction in crime and an increase in investment, yielding more more sustainable than restoring an existing building?economic benefits. Many have made strong arguments for the positive environmentalImproving existing buildings leads to increased property values, impact of restoration. Perhaps the most compelling stems from thetoo. This means greater equity very definition of restoration:for owners and more potential the act of preserving assets,profit. It also results in more taxrevenue for local cities. Cities The benefits of building restoration extend returning them to their former position or an improvedcan reinvest this revenue in localprojects and services, further well beyond the lot lines of buildings. condition. Inherent in its name, restoration preserves existingenhancing the quality of life in resources, extending their lifecities and urban neighborhoods. and allowing future generations to use and enjoy them.Rising property values, increased traffic and more residents lead Statistics reveal that 44,000 commercial buildings are demolishedto the demand for more services. Together, they provide a ripe annually in the United States. The Deconstruction Institute reportsenvironment for investment on all levels: public, private and that the demolition of buildings in the U.S. produces about 124individual. Job creation, tax revenues and reduction in crime—the tons of debris each year. In fact, construction debris accounts forWWW.SWRIONLINE.ORG APPLICATOR 9
  6. 6. The Montgomery Plaza had been ravaged by flood and tornado By restoring buildings, we can make andamage and abandoned. Unique restoration solutions brought the immediate and significant impact on the1920s structure back to life in Fort Worth, Texas. volume of waste going to landfills. one-third of all solid waste. Add to those numbers statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency, which estimates that 27 percent of all buildings will be replaced between 2000 and 2030. By restoring buildings, we can make an immediate and significant impact on the volume of waste going to landfills. We can no longer afford to throw buildings away in the name of progress, development or the environment. “New construction is estimated to create 1.5 times more greenhouse gas than building restoration.”—Carnegie Melon’s Green Design Institute Another benefit to restoring buildings? Doing so utilizes existing infrastructure. After all, the roads are already built, power andBuilding restoration creates jobs because a major utilities already exist. By reusing existing buildings, we limit the needcomponent, about 60 percent to 70 percent, is labor. for additional resources and maximize the existing infrastructure investment. This lessens the impact on resources, water and emissions from the construction of roads and utilities. Building restoration preserves embodied energy. Much of the discussion around sustainable construction centers on the embodied energy of building materials. What about the embodied energy of the building being razed and replaced? Each time we replace a building, we lose the embodied energy invested in that building. Building restoration preserves not only embodied energy but the time, money and emotion invested in that building. Where Do We Go From Here? Building restoration is a sustainable, responsible use of resources. Restoration is an opportunity for us to make an impact on our economy, our communities and the environment. In the discussion of sustainable development, restoration has a strong value proposition. After all, what is sustainable construction if not preserving what we have already built? About the Author Improving existing buildings leads to increased Christopher Perego is market segment manager, building restoration, property values. This means greater equity for for BASF Construction Chemicals, Building Systems (Shakopee, Minn.). owners and more potential profit. He can be reached at christopher.perego@basf.com or (612) 991-0095.10 APPLICATOR 32.3 FALL 2010