Renovation vs. New Construction

From on June 23, 2008 in Green Remodeling

renovation crewRenovation is a greener building option than new construction. So says Donovan Rypkema, president of PlaceEconomics and an avid supporter of historical renovation. Rypkema makes the case that renovation uses fewer resources and employs significantly more people than new construction. He notes that new construction is about half labor and half materials, while renovation uses as much as 75% labor. That means you get twice as much local employment for every dollar spent on a restoration project versus new construction.

Rypkema says that intensifying labor promotes the local economy in two ways. “First, we buy the HVAC system from Ohio and lumber from Idaho, but we buy the services of the plumber, electrician, and the carpenter from across the street. Further, once we hang the drywall, the drywall doesn’t spend any more money. But the plumber gets a haircut on the way home, buys groceries, and joins the YMCA—each recirculating that paycheck within the community.”

Rypkema is a zealous proponent of fixing buildings up rather than letting them become dilapidated and torn down. He is passionate in his criticism of architects using LEED certification as a reason to demolish old buildings to make room for new.