Seismic reinforced buildings to illustrate Mace's plea to the government to adopt a "retrofit first" strategy in construction

Mace makes case for retrofit over demolition to reduce Construction’s impact on the environment

Mace is calling on the government to adopt a “retrofit first” strategy in planning policy in a bid to stop so many old buildings being demolished.

Transform & Renew

The contractor launched a new report – Transform & Renew – Making non-domestic buildings fit for a low carbon future.

It promotes the reuse and repurposing of existing non-domestic buildings.

Among its 12 recommendations is a presumption in favour of redevelopment in UK planning policy.

Other Mace retrofit recommendations:

  • Providing more clarity on energy efficiency regulations for commercial buildings
  • Reviewing retrofit funding allocations for the public sector
  • Exploring new fiscal incentives around the reuse or recycling of materials in the built environment.

The Mace report follows the recent high-profile case of plans by M&S to demolish its flagship London store.

In this instance, there were concerns over the amount of embedded carbon it contains.

In fact, the report does note demolition may be the best decision for a building. For example, when the existing building has poor design or doesn’t meet modern building safety standards.

“Greater assurance for stakeholders”

However, by explaining the need to demolish there would be greater assurance for stakeholders that sustainability was a consideration.

Gareth Lewis, CEO, Mace Construct, said: “If construction is to reduce its impact on the environment, we must aim to re-use and repurpose as much of our existing building stock as possible.

“Many buildings may not require demolition and can be transformed and renewed through retrofit into fantastic new assets, savings tonnes of embodied carbon in the process. We are therefore urging the government to mandate consideration of retrofit at the planning stage to avoid unnecessary demolition.

“However, demolition can sometimes be necessary because of poor design or critical safety reasons, and it’s therefore important we avoid binary debates on new build versus retrofit.

“If demolition is required, then the reasons for this should be made clear from the onset. Developers should also consider how elements of the building can be retained, reused or recycled – adopting a circular mindset to construction.”

Download the report here.