Existing buildings present an enormous energy resource. Energy has already been expended in their manufacture. The problem is that they tend to consume more energy than modern buildings. Much modern development thus begins by assuming that such buildings should be demolished. The group seeks to challenge this concept by asking:
• How does energy use compare with the environmental costs and energy involved in demolition and rebuilding?
• Assuming that buildings should be kept, can they be upgraded?
The last question is clearly the most difficult and relies on a number of factors:
1. knowing exactly how the building is constructed
2. understanding the structural and thermal performance of traditional buildings
3. devising viable strategies for each type of building construction
Whether strategies are viable will depend on whether they are cost effective and the degree to which they can be incorporated within the fabric without making the building uninhabitable.