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Sustainable CRE: Adaptive Reuse

October 20, 2021

Photo: A warehouse from 1960 transformed by MA Studios into a craft brewery, restaurant, commercial kitchen, and bar with outdoor dining and courtyard (source:

Many new buildings are equipped with the highest-grade technologies and energy solutions. However, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it would take about 65 years for these efforts to recover the same amount of energy lost during demolition. This is even with as much as 40 percent recycled material input! While the thought may be there, the practicality of these green “solutions” may not be.

One approach to solving this issue is adaptive reuse. While not a necessarily new concept, its practicality has taken the industry by storm.

A Green Start

With adaptive reuse, developers can use a pre-existing building infrastructure, thus eliminating the need for new construction. This equates to less material use, less waste, and less shipments of material goods, a leading cause in a building’s carbon footprint!


Adaptive reuse also allows cities and businesses a strategy of densification rather than trying to expand in an already heavily developed area. It is a popular way to make space for more offices and retail in areas with a declining manufacturing industry, for example. Think of it as recycling, but with buildings!

An Inspiration

More often than not, these adaptive reuse buildings are transformed into beautifully unique businesses that inspire the next entrepreneur to also revitalize. The contagious creativity this strategy imparts helps continue the spread of this environmentally friendly tactic.

Feeling inspired yourself? Check out this list of 20 creative adaptive reuse projects from around the world!

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