Building reuse assessment for sustainable urban reconstruction

Debra F. Laefer, Jonathan P. Manke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building reuse is a linchpin to managing solid waste. Despite the various benefits beyond contributing to sustainability that can be realized through building reuse, including direct and indirect cost savings, truncated construction schedules, and reduced site disruptions, little formal consideration has been given to this topic, which places professional engineers at a disadvantage when considering this as a design option. As each building project has its own specific requirements, reuse is not always the most economical solution, but, in cases where reuse is in part motivated by other factors such as heritage protection, substantial economic and environmental savings can be realized in tandem. Based on nearly two decades of professional experience, a generalized assessment method for reuse is proposed to facilitate benefit maximization. Applying this 10-step method, the costs related to building replacement and sustainable reuse are compared using two case histories and a theoretical building. A clear correlation is shown with the potential for savings as a function of project size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Demolition
  • Pile foundations
  • Reconstruction
  • Rehabilitation
  • Renovation
  • Sustainable development
  • Urban areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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