Cost comparison: Upgrade or renew?

Hylo Res lo res copy

To meet net zero targets, owners must bring buildings up to scratch. Whether to refurb or demolish and rebuild is the question

Hylo Res lo res copy

At the Hylo Building in London’s Bunhill Row, the team – which included AKT II, HCL and Arcadis – decided to extend the original Finsbury Tower building by 13 storeys rather than replace it – saving 35% of the carbon footprint of a new-build

01 / Introduction

The shifting sands of guidance and regulations together with the ongoing development of carbon assessment methods and models are proof that we are still learning what sustainability and net zero carbon actually mean in the built environment. There is, however, a convergence on the importance of taking a whole-life view.

The energy crisis has placed even more focus on whole-life operational efficiencies, while increasing energy performance certificate (EPC) requirements mean owners and investors must upgrade their existing stock quickly. This requires weighing the costs and benefits – financial and environmental – of improvement versus renewal.

Planners increasingly ask whether demolition can be avoided by retaining parts of an existing building, a challenge that now forms the basis of many feasibility studies. This article assesses a series of interventions, ranging from a relatively straightforward retrofit to a full redevelopment, from both cost and carbon perspectives. 

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