McCarthy, Timothy J.; Sheikh, M. N.; and Gardner, Anne, 2008, Encapsulating sustainability principles for structural design of buildings, in P. Kenny & V. Brophy (eds.), Passive and Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) Annual International Conference, Dublin: University College.
Adaptive re-use of buildings is seen by many as a key mechanism for developing a sustainable urban environment. How many buildings are actually designed with adaptive re-use as one of the requirements? This paper is concerned with how new building designs can take into account the future need for renovation, revamp and retrofit. At the outset of a building project, one cannot know for sure what modifications will be needed in the future. However, there are considerations that can be incorporated into the initial design and construction that will facilitate future renovations. Likewise there are practices that are undertaken now that will make renovations more difficult in the future. This preparation for the future re-use of buildings is an area of sustainability that has not received much attention. Examples of buildings that were originally designed with future modifications incorporated illustrate that long term thinking can lead to long term gain. There are also barriers to the long view. Economic drivers favour short term gain. The costs are levied up-front but the return on investment is many years later. The paper finishes with two case studies that demonstrate a long term sustainable approach.