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Retrofitting/Repurposing Real Estate

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What is Retrofitting?

  • Retrofitting means providing something with a component or feature that did not exist when it was manufactured or adding something that it did not have when first constructed. This process is highly popular with historical buildings and landmarks.

What’s a building retrofit and what does it entail?

  • Retrofitting a building involves changing its systems or structure after its initial construction and occupation. This work can improve amenities for the building's occupants and improve the performance of the building. As technology develops, building retrofits can significantly reduce energy and water usage.

How is retrofitting beneficial?

  • Higher economical value (cost-effective energy retrofits)
  • Ensures investment success
  • More sustainable than demolishing and creating new
  • Reducing carbon emissions associated with the built environment means reducing the emissions associated with the whole lifecycle of buildings.
  • Environmental, social and governance purposes (ESG)
  • Has the advantage of cutting out red tape that can encumber new construction
  • Saving on capital expenditure while benefiting from new technologies
  • Longevity of investment/asset life cycle

Why hasn’t retrofitting been adapted globally yet?

  • Lack of governmental policies and practices that are needed to scale up activity in the sector
  • Misconception of high initial costs
  • Absence of better transparency in actual energy performance
  • Non-standardized procedures

Retrofitting vs. Repurposing

  • Though often used interchangeably in design and architecture, the two words have rather distinct meanings. While retrofitting is the addition of a new feature or component, repurposing is the use of real estate or buildings for a purpose other than what was originally intended.

Examples of Repurposing

  • Use of retail space as community spaces rather than strictly retail
  • On-demand warehousing used as vertical farming space
  • Conversion of a space into mixed-use developments
  • Historical building serving as a museum or theatre

Covid-19’s impact on the acceleration of Retrofitting trends

  • Real Estate owners retrofit buildings for longevity amid coronavirus as they come to the realization that buildings are living breathing entities rather than inert assets.