Are sustainable building retrofits delivering sustainable outcomes?

Pacific Rim Real Estate Society
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Pacific Rim Property Research Journal, 2013, 19 (2), pp. 211 - 222
Issue Date:
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Retrofit of the existing building stock is essential undertaking to mitigate the effects of climate change and global warming. Pointedly most stock was constructed without consideration of sustainability. Sustainability was legislated in the Building Code of Australia in 2006, with minimum standards for energy efficiency applied to new build and some retrofit projects. Melbourne launched the 1200 Buildings Program in 2008 to deliver carbon neutrality by 2020 after Arup (2008) concluded that retrofitting two thirds of the stock would deliver a 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This research used case study to examine what has been undertaken in the 1200 Buildings Program retrofits. This study had two aims which were; to gain a deeper understanding of the improvements made to existing office buildings in the 1200 Buildings Program and, to undertake a comparison of current practices within the programme. The sustainability measures undertaken were largely focussed on building services and energy efficiency. There was less work undertaken to address water economy measures, to the building fabric and little work which addressed social sustainability aspects. The cases reflect was what undertaken at given points in time and future practices may change as the economic and social environments vary. The study illustrates Melbourne practices which may or not be replicated in part or full elsewhere. The research shows changes in practices are occurring and that energy savings are accruing to owners and tenants. Local practitioners are up-skilling themselves in the technical and environmental knowledge and skills necessary to retrofit the built environment to a carbon constrained future.
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