The triple bottom line and energy efficiency in existing commercial buildings

 Applied research

     Recently we gave a talk sharing why and how to improve energy efficiency in existing commercial buildings. We relearned in the process how extensive and valuable the existing building retrofit marketplace is. It's "estimated about $960 billion will be spent through 2023 on greening existing built infrastructure." According to the US Green Building Council's latest fact sheet, 61 percent of all building is retrofit construction.
      We also learned somewhat surprisingly, the operation of existing buildings in the US consume almost 42 percent of total energy used on a yearly basis. Almost 6 percent additionally goes to building construction and materials for retrofits and new construction. (see figure 2)

A process diagram:

Figure 1

Figure 1

      We created this circular diagram (Figure 1) to show our approach to a values driven design process to develop your minor or major renovation project. We believe in the triple bottomed line power of people, planet and profit to frame your project's purpose, design and development strategies and their implementation.  It's a holistic integrated lens. 

Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 3 | The Six-steps of existing facility planning, design, construction and operation - by Stephen M. Frey, AIA

Figure 3 | The Six-steps of existing facility planning, design, construction and operation - by Stephen M. Frey, AIA

      To do this well we recommend you undergo a deliberative process looking closely at your organization's mission, purpose and core values laid against your project's needs. We also think its critical to engage your work community, board of directors, customers and suppliers as well in these conversations. Doing so will build positive organizational engagement at all levels along with your stakeholder community.

Generational thinking and the six-steps:

      We also believe in generational thinking where it's important to consider the needs of generations to follow in the actions we take today.
 "Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground the unborn of the future Nation."

       Take this generational thinking mindset with you as you engage in the six steps leading you and your community through the design, engineering, building and operations process. Doing so will prove valuable to your business, your community.  
      Within the day to day doing of this six-step process make sure to keep reviewing your original project visioning and purpose alignment to your core organizational goals and mission found in Figure 3. Along the way you will find slippage and deviation from those original goals. Sometimes unavoidable, oftentimes they are especially if you have done the earlier deliberative work together.
     Rather than blindly go ahead to design and building new facilities in the years ahead, first consider adaptation, retrofit and reuse of existing buildings as an initial step.  Sometimes looks can be deceiving of those forlorn neglected buildings. Just below the surface lies great bones, textured stories waiting to be revealed, renewed and shared again for the next generation.  You won't regret it.