What Is Adaptive Reuse?

From on December 17, 2008 in Green Remodeling

Barn Housegreen wednesdayQuite simply, adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an old structure for new purposes. It is implemented as a means for conserving land and reducing urban sprawl. On a larger scale, adaptive reuse is often a key factor in urban renewal programs that aim to revive dilapidated and often historic city centers. In residential terms, adaptive reuse commonly involves the purchase and conversion of old barns into modern living spaces.

These barns and other structures are usually dismantled. All material possible is salvaged and reused in the new home. It’s important to note that adaptive reuse implies that materials need not be reused in the same capacity that was originally intended. For instance, old barn siding could be used as paneling for the interior of the house. The key is that every piece of reusable material be adapted as is possible. There are some notable adaptive reuse projects around the world. The Tate Gallery in London was at one time a power plant and the historic Western Metal Supply building was incorporated into the design of PETCO Park, the home of baseball’s San Diego Padres.

In addition to the eco-friendliness of adaptive reuse, there are cost savings as well, most obviously the reduced cost of new materials. Adaptive reuse, or renovating the space, will likely be a more labor-intensive project because many old materials need re-milling or other work. Therefore, the overall cost of the project goes up. The bright side is that even if the cost of renovating and reusing is comparable to building with all new materials, a higher percentage of the money spent remains local, to be spent by local contractors and their employees.