Last month I posted a brief article of my own after seeing a Residential Architect magazine piece about some of the considerations in the ‘tear-down and build new’ versus ‘renovate what’s existing’ debate.

At the time, the only link to the article was to an online magazine which is an absolutely awful format. Fortunately, the article is now in a more normal and much more readable page and I’m happier to link to it than to the original. If you were intrigued at the time, but took my advice and held off, now you can read it.

While it is undoubtedly true that renovating what is already existing is usually a greener option, just as it’s true that LEED is not a good excuse for demolishing an older home. But sometimes what is old doesn’t work anymore. Maybe only part of the existing building is really valuable, and other solutions, including a more radical renovation or partial demolition and reconstruction, make more sense.

I’m not advocating for any one particular approach for every case. The point, I think, is that thinking more creatively can sometimes find some middleground solutions. The interesting cases are those where a part of the building is valued by the owner, but other parts of the building don’t work. Holding on to the important parts and yet being able to improve the building overall can be the greenest strategy.

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