A methodology to analyze the net environmental impacts and building’s cost performance of an adaptive reuse project: a case study of the Waterloo County Courthouse renovations

  • Benjamin SanchezEmail author
  • Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani
  • Carl Haas


Adaptive reuse of buildings is considered a superior alternative for the renewal of today’s built environment. However, little research has been done for assessing adaptive reuse building projects in terms of life cycle and Circular Economy. Because of the great impact that the building industry has on the environment, failing to optimize buildings’ useful life can result in their residual life cycle expectancy not being fully exploited, and with it, wasting the resources embedded therein, such as Primary Energy Demand. The aim of this study is to develop and test a methodology to analyze the net environmental impacts as well as the building’s cost performance of an adaptive reuse project. This paper focuses on the analysis of the structural system. Results show that the adaptive reuse of the building structure produces a considerable decrease in the environmental impacts and the construction building cost. Distribution of cost among materials and equipment is different from those for a new building, while the distribution cost for labor remains the similar. This study objectively demonstrates the considerable benefits of the adaptive reuse of the structure of an existing asset. In contrast, the non-structural building subsystems have been identified as an area with high potential for improving the existing inefficiencies during the adaptive reuse process.


Adaptive reuse Life cycle assessment Circular economy Net environmental impact Environmental savings Primary energy demand 



The authors would like to thank the energy Council of Canada (ECC) and the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) for providing support for this research paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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