The Environment Report had a piece today about adaptive reuse of old schools and how this is something actively going on in some shrinking cities in the region including Detroit and Lansing. The key point – that reusing buildings is a more sustainable option than demolishing them and building new – was highlighted instead of being skipped over. Gene Hopkins was included in the piece, and had a couple of good quotes: “There’s nothing more sustainable than an existing building. Flat out. Period.”

One example was cited, in which a developer bought an old school for just a thousand dollars. He then spent seven million on the rehabilitation and renovation of the building, but, he also points out that, for a new building, he would have spent 10 to 20 million. So that’s a cost savings of a minimum of 30% compared to new construction.

Another recent public radio program, Marketplace, also had a segment about renovation and adaptive reuse being the way for greener homes, as well.

It’s good to see more traction being given to the idea of working with the existing structures, and the importance of greening what has already been built, and not focusing exclusively on new construction. Building new can be exciting and dynamic, but alone it’s not sufficient for what is needed.