Judging by there being over 10m hits on Google, ‘Retrofit for Purpose’ is a title that resonates. Penoyre and Prasad’s book of that title, subtitled ‘Low energy Renewal of Non-Domestic Buildings’ and launched by RIBA Publishing at Ecobuild, is essential reading especially for those teaching architecture as solely the art of building new buildings.
The reality is that we need to make much better use of the buildings we have already got rather than pulling them down before they have even been paid for; and of course expecting new buildings to last for at least 200 years. This book tells you how, with 11 case studies preceded by 6 classic essays including ones by Sunand Prasad and three heroes of Building Performance Evaluation - Bill Bordass, Roderic Bunn and Rajat Gupta with Matt Gregg. I was less familiar with the experience in Germany and USA presented by Mark Siddall and it was interesting to learn that in the Sates it was private sector commercial that pulled the transformation not legislation. But the show-stopper for me was Richard Francis’ economic and management arguments in ‘Spend to make: financing commercial retrofits.’ Francis of The Monomoy Company spells it out so clearly and suggests ‘there are signs that a fundamental shift is under way’ and not before time.
Assembling the data for the case studies must have been a battle of wills, a battle well worth fighting as we have good comparable energy and carbon data, plans and sections and before and after photographs. There are 5 offices, 2 university buildings, 1 visitor centre, 1 leisure centre, 1 school and Penoyre and Prasad’s own heroic transformation of the Guy’s Hospital tower. I should probably declare an interest as one of the offices is our own transformation of a Victorian Foundry into a really comfortable BREEAM Excellent office, showing off our own work.
|Looking south towards the canal before and after retrofitting|
Siddall suggests that to comply with the ‘EU Energy Efficient Directive, a 33-year programme will be required necessitating the refurbishment of 492,350m² of the total estate per year. At say between £500 and £1,000 per m², the annual expenditure would be some £250m to £500m per annum; and that is just for the public estate leaving aside over 3m privately owned non-domestic buildings’. And that will require top architects, engineers and construction managers with new skills, working collaboratively. LETS GO!