Adaptation patterns in premium office buildings over time in the Melbourne CBD

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Journal Article
Journal of Corporate Real Estate, 2012, 14 (3), pp. 157 - 170
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Achieving sustainable development in the twenty-first century will be won or lost in the world's urban settlements, informed adaptation of existing stock is vital. Local Authorities are encouraging adaptation to reduce building related carbon emissions. The City of Melbourne aims to retrofit 1,200 central business district (CBD) properties by 2020 to become carbon neutral. As Australian cities date from the early 1800s and the adaptation of buildings is not as entrenched as in Europe, there is a pressing need for greater knowledge of what happens to buildings over time. The purpose of this study is to examine building adaptation from 1998 to 2008. This paper concentrates on the question; what is the pattern of adaptation within premium grade office buildings over time? Using the Melbourne CBD as a case study, the research analysed all commercial building adaptations. After a uni-variate statistical analysis of all premium office adaptations, two case studies were selected and profiled to discover what happened to them during the period and to ascertain what may be learned as a result to inform future adaptation strategies and policies. This research has established that there is a high rate of adaptations to existing commercial buildings which leads to the disposal of functional and serviceable fixtures and fittings to landfill sites. This practice results in the unnecessary loss of embodied carbon which compromises efforts to deliver carbon neutrality in its widest sense. In the short term we need to learn to take advantage of existing behaviour patterns in respect of adaptation and to learn how buildings adapt and to incentivise the needed behavioural changes. The selection of case studies allowed an examination of the data at a deeper level, though it is acknowledged that the depth does not equal that achieved in a purely qualitative approach whereby stakeholders are interviewed or surveyed directly and this is a limitation of the approach. This research is based on an analysis of all adaptation activity within a distinct geographical area over an extended period of time. The analysis shows what does happen to a defined sector of the stock; in this case premium office property and highlights the types and patterns of adaptation as buildings evolve through their lifecycles. © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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