Adaptive reuse is even more sustainable with LEED

"The greenest building is the one that already exists," Carl Elefante, former president of the American Institute of Architects, once said. Among the various types of green building projects, adaptive reuse is one that makes special sense from the standpoint of embodied energy. According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it can take 80 years for a new building to overcome the climate change impacts created by its construction.

Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC and GBCI, wrote in 2019, "I meet some people who see existing buildings as relics of a once bustling city, who immediately write them off to history. On the other hand, there are those of us in the green building community who see these structures as diamonds in the rough, and often the key to securing a city’s sustainable future."

Historic buildings and districts serve as part of a community's specific economic and cultural identity, embodying the past and representing continuance into the future. Plus, the brick exteriors and large windows of America's old factories lend themselves well to attractive, light-filled residences. According to data from RentCafe, the past 10 years have shown an all-time high in old buildings being converted into apartments, with around 800 projects completed. In addition, 65% of those projects were targeted to low- and middle-income residents.

A natural fit for green goals like using currently developed sites, valuing walkable neighborhoods and providing access to public transportation, such projects find LEED certification helps support their sustainable adaptive reuse. Take a look at four residential projects in the Northeast by reading the full article on

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