Retrofits, or upgrades to existing buildings, enhance environmental performance through cost-effective solutions. There are several means to updating a building's current state, in order to rejuvenate it into a more green-adapting promise for the future.
Equipment that has sustained the life of a building for decades demands a suitable replacement. Replacing these old components with collaborative energy-efficient systems also allows for cost-savings, and a better return investment in the long-term payback period.
Integrated systems allow for a better analysis of total building energy consumption. They allow for critical investigation of the factors that contribute towards energy waste or efficient energy usage in a building. Furthermore, by combining systems, we become more mindful, as the users, that one action will impact another.
Retrofits can occur in additional various ways of building design and construction. The use of local and renewable materials and resources feeds into a cycle of sustainability. Enhancing the existing site through careful site planning — perhaps the incorporation of a bio-swale, or other carefully engineered site conditions, can manage storm water runoff and instead use it for the building's utilities.
Moreover digging through a structure's layers and replacing existing embedded installations, such as windows and insulation, will contribute greatly towards energy efficiency. Windows with glazing and type and amount of insulation can readily decide how the building will heat and cool at various times of year.
Innovation is also an integral element of retrofitting. A building relies not only on its designers to pave the way for greener performance. It is the users, those who ultimately determine the afterlife of the retrofitting, that carry forth the act. Through user-friendly energy management systems, building tenants both learn and control how they consume energy on a daily basis.
Farah Naz Ahmad was born in New York City and holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the City College of New York. Her career goal is to become a licensed architect. Her past roles as President of American Institute of Architecture Students and as a team leader for the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon have increased her passion for design and sustainability. Farah promotes such concepts as clean energy to educate the future generation. Farah is a LEED Green Associate.