Building Refurbishment versus New Build

Refurbishment of the whole building structure can mean retrofitting energy efficient items, and working within the periphery of the existing structure. However, in a new build, the structure is built from the scratch meeting all energy efficiency measures. An intensive debate usually surfaces over new build v/s Building Refurbishment. The question of sustainability and energy efficiency is a pertinent facet of the whole debate. Although both options are viable in different conditions, it is necessary to figure out which out of the new build or refurbishment options are feasible, cost effective, sustainable and also energy efficient in a particular situation.

Refurbishment can be a bad idea

The refurbishment option will seldom be helpful in old, dilapidated home conditions. In such cases going for complete Building Refurbishments will mean conducting a number of demolitions which will lead to sizeable amount of carbon emissions. Setting up new walls will mean breaking old walls, also changing windows will mean removing the old windows. All such renovations are not only capital intensive but also labour intensive.

In such cases, conducting complete destructions of the old structure and building newer energy efficient structure seems to be a viable and wise decision as there is little to gain from Building Refurbishments.

Adding extra insulations internally to manage additional retrofits during refurbishment can consume space and make small houses look even smaller. Additional insulation from the outside may also be impossible sometimes in many cold bridging houses where the planning authorities require the preservation of external features like solid walls. Apart from these limitations, there are many constraints during refurbishments for applying innovation as one has work in the circumference of the existing structure and make minimal changes. The result being that the problem of overheating will continue in this era of global warming due to inadequate insulation.

There are experts who believe that maximum amount of CO2 emissions from homes come from electronics. Hence, conserving the old structure will not necessarily mean that there can be decrease in CO2 emission. Even then, people who have a special attachment to their old, original and decrepit houses seldom agree in demolishing old structure completely to build a new structure. It is necessary to understand that new build can help in sustainability and improving energy efficiency in conditions where the old structures are absolutely in wrecked condition.

Some contemplation on new build

CO2 emissions are at the maximum during destruction of the building as most machinery is also carbon intensive in case of a new build. However, with a new build, energy efficiency can be improved many times more in the long run compared to 30–40% achieved through refurbishment. This is due to improved energy saving provisions in a new build. Thus, though in the short term the CO2 emissions can be very high, in the long term new build surpasses the benefits derived from refurbishment in terms of sustainability and energy efficiency. Hence, houses which are old and in ramshackle definitely must go for new build.

It is only in the new building that the innovative technologies of integrated vacuum insulation panels can be installed which will help eradicate the root of the problem of CO2 emissions inside the house than just retrofitting in the old structure. The new materials, appliances and insulations in the new build definitely enable longevity and sustenance.