Renovation Uses Twice As Much Labor, Half as Much Material as New Construction


Lister Block in Hamilton, owned by the Laborers International Union of North America

Here is another reason that renovating old buildings is greener than building new: It uses a lot fewer resources and employs a lot more neighbours. Donovan Rypkema points out that new construction is about 50-50 labour and materials, whereas restoration and renovation can be as much as 75% labour- for every dollar spent you get twice as much local employment, and use about half the resources. "This labor intensity affects a local economy on two levels. First, we buy an HVAC system from Ohio and lumber from Idaho, but we buy the services of the plumber, the electrician, and the carpenter from across the street. Further, once we hang the drywall, the drywall doesn’t spend any more money. But the plumber gets a hair cut on the way home, buys groceries, and joins the YMCA – each recirculating that paycheck within the community."

A good reason to fix buildings up, rather than letting them fall apart. More from ::Donovan Rypkema