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Benefits  > Building Reuse
Durability and flexibility
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL (CTLGroup photo)One of the three arrows of the now quite familiar logo stands for reuse. As one of the three Rs, reuse is second in the hierarchy of reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reuse can be done on a big scale when saving buildings from the demolition ball. It does take planning, but the result can be significant savings, as well as environmental benefit.

Typically building reuse means leaving the main portion of the building structure and shell in place while performing what is known in the trade as a “gut rehab.” Repairing a building rather than tearing it down: saves natural resources, including the raw materials, energy, and water resources required to build new; prevents pollution that might take place as a byproduct of extraction, manufacturing, and transportation of virgin materials; and avoids creating solid waste that could end up in landfills.

A key factor in building reuse is the durability of the original structure.


Vacant building ripe for reuse in North Carolina. ( concrete and masonry exteriors are long-lasting, and frequently exhibit superior detail and craftsmanship, concrete and masonry buildings are good candidates for building reuse. Windows, floor coverings, partition walls, mechanical systems, and plumbing can be replaced and insulation can be added while maintaining the original concrete frame and exterior walls.

In addition to its long service life concrete offers a low-maintenance surface, another good reason to consider reuse. One way to lengthen the building’s life and improve the chances of reuse it to inspect the exterior yearly and if necessary, repair.

Some states, such as North Carolina, provide grants to renovate vacant buildings in rural counties or in economically distressed urban areas.

The USGBC’s LEED Rating System recognizes the importance of building reuse. Reusing a building can contribute to earning points under LEED-NC Materials Resource Credit 1 on Building Reuse.
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Located at BookstoreCreative Re-Use of Buildings (2000)
Latham, Derek, Donhead Publishing Ltd, Port City Fulfillment Services, Kimball, MI.
Available for purchase. 2 Volumes Creative re-use is more than conversion or rehabilitation of a property for new, or continued, use. The two volumes of this book offer numerous illustrated examples of the innovative work by a range of architects in addition to key projects from Derek Latham's own practice.
Located at BookstoreSpecifiers Guide to Durable Concrete (2005)
PCA No. EB221, 72 pages
Available for $30. This publication is an instruction guide and basic reference for those responsible for writing and implementing concrete specifications. This reference covers the basic concepts of concrete technology as it relates to durability, and is intended to be a companion and supplement to Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures. It provides sufficient information to allow the practitioner to select materials and mix design parameters to achieve durable concrete in a variety of environments. It also warns the user when expert help is recommended. Maintenance requirements to assure long-term performance are provided Several case studies provide real-world examples.
Located at External Web SiteConcrete as a Carbon Sink
Liv Haselbach, Associate Professor Civil and Environmental Engineering Washington State University
Located at External Web SiteConcrete's Contrubition to Sustainable Development
Concrete is the most widely used building material on earth. It has a 2, 000 year track record ofhelping build the Roman Empire to building today's modern societies. As a result ofits versatility, beauty, strength,·and durability, concrete is used in most types ofconstruction, including homes, buildings, roads, bridges, airports, subways, and water resource structures. And with today's heightened awareness and demandfor sustainable construction, concrete performs well when compared to other building materials. Concrete is a sustainable building material due to its many eco{riendly features. The production ofconcrete is resource efficient and the ingredients require little processing. Most materials for concrete are acquired and manufactured locally which minimizes transportation energy. Concrete building systems combine insulation with high thermal mass and low air infiltration to make homes and buildings more energy efficient. Concrete has a long service life for buildings and transportation infrastructure, thereby increasing the period between reconstruction, repair, and maintenance and the associated environmental impact. Concrete, when used as pavement or exterior cladding, helps minimize the urban heat island effect, thus reducing the energy required to heat and cool our homes and buildings. Concrete incorporates recycled industrial byproducts such as fly ash, slag, and silica fume that helps reduce embodied energy, carbon footprint, and waste.
Located at External Web SiteHigh-gloss Finishes (2007)
The Construction Specifier, by Howard Jancy, CSI, CDT, and Greg Schwietz, SCI, CDT, 2007
Polishing concrete can be used to refurbish old or damaged floors or add dimension to new ones. The process to attain glossy surfaces is discussed, along with safety standards, maintenance, and chemical treatments to protect floors. This discussion also includes an overview of materials used to color concrete surfaces to add a further decorative element.