“Fresh green builds get a lot of press, yet new buildings comprise only about 2% of the world’s total at any one time. What we do with existing stock is now moving higher up the agenda.
Buildings use 40% of materials and create 40% of the world’s carbon emissions annually, according to the US Green Building Council. In addition, 70% of electricity, 65% of municipal waste and 12% of piped water is channelled through buildings. “Existing buildings are not wasteful, it’s how we use them and work in them that is,” says Jutta Berns-Mumbi of green building consultancy Ecocentric. It is clear that to make the impact green building professionals are hoping for we should be focusing on existing buildings. Retrofitting may be the “janitor work” of ecodesign, but it is also probably the most important thing we can do to clean up our act.”