Chair of Real Estate Management - Adaptive Reuse

Hilde Remøy

Buildings account for 40% of the total energy consumption in the European Union, 35% of ghg emissions, 50% of all materials extracted and 40% of the waste generation. Moreover, in the EU more than 1,000 km² of land are subject to 'land take' every year for housing, industry, roads or recreational purposes. However, a fair amount of the existing built environment and what is added to it is superfluous. Real estate markets are characterised as replacement markets, driven by spatial shifts in the urban fabric causing changes in highest and best land use. Urban areas lack resilience to react to these shifts. In the office market, organisations move to new offices and locations, leaving existing buildings vacant. Also cultural and industrial heritage buildings become redundant, are not well managed and maintained, and disappear by dilapidation and demolition. To deal with these specific challenges, there is a demand for sustainable real estate strategies.

Adaptive reuse is a means to deal with buildings when user requirements change and the current functional lifespan ends, and a real estate strategy for aligning demand and supply of buildings, portfolios and areas. Moreover, adaptive reuse is a strategy for maintaining, conserving and reusing cultural and industrial heritage. The IMBE research programme conducts research on Adaptive Reuse as a Sustainable Real Estate Strategy.

Some concrete challenges that we aim at unravelling in current research: First, banks fail to estimate the value of adaptive reuse concepts and reject financing. So, new models are needed to understand and explain new forms of financing. Second, existing business models are based on new-build and growth, whereas adaptive reuse is part of the circular economy. New business models are needed to fully analyse and develop feasible solutions for adaptive reuse. Finally, users demand new buildings and reject reuse. New governance models that include architectural quality and historic value are needed to understand and implement the quality of existing real estate in accommodation decisions.

Most research so far has focused on the Dutch context. We would like to develop this research in other contexts as well. The research will build on current work, including:

  • Wilkinson SJ, Remøy H, Langston C (2014) Sustainable Building Adaptations. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Remøy H, Van Der Voordt DJM (2014) Adaptive reuse of office buildings: opportunities and risks of conversion into housing. Building Research and Information (42) 3, pp 381-390.
  • Remøy H, De Jonge H (2009) Transformation of monofunctional office areas. In: Van den Dobbelsteen A, Van Dorst M, Van Timmeren A (eds) Smart Building in a Changing Climate. Amsterdam, Techne Press.