With the world facing an increasingly dire climate crisis, an impactful and coordinated response from the design and construction industry is becoming imperative in order to achieve our shared goals of reducing carbon emissions and transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle. Here in Toronto, the development industry is booming, with cranes filling the sky and new towers rising up across the city. With all this new construction, the emphasis on sustainability is often on the reduction of emissions related to operations of new buildings, but this ignores the embodied carbon associated with the demolition of existing structures, resource extraction, and the fabrication of new materials, all of which accounts for a significant portion of the construction industry’s emissions.
In a new article published in the Spring 2022 edition of ACORN Magazine, David Sisam, along with collaborators Gillian Bartlett and Lynne DiStefano, argues that preservation of existing buildings, particularly mid-century modern apartment blocks, can significantly aid in achieving reduced emissions targets by minimizing or eliminating embodied carbon emissions. The preservation of these structures also helps stave off the effects of a growing housing affordability crisis by maintaining and refurbishing existing rental housing stock, rather than demolishing and replacing with less affordable new dwelling units. The article is an insightful investigation into the intersection of heritage preservation, sustainability, and housing, and is a call to action for the construction industry to tackle these issues head on.
The article can be viewed here.