Offices: refurbishing or new construction which is more sustainable?

environmental impact of empty offices

Commissioned by: Agentschap NL

office emptyAbout one quarter of the office buildings in The Netherlands is not occupied. This corresponds to the size of city centre of Amsterdam. It is expected that this non-occupancy share will rise to 44% if no measures are taken.
In commission by the Netherlands Energy Agency W/E consultants has investigated the environmental impacts of the different choices that can be made when renewing the rental contract for office space. For office buildings with different construction years five alternative scenarios have been analysed with respect to their sustainability scores. For this analysis we used the GPR Building as assessment tool.
One of the conclusions is that staying in the same building without refurbishing it is not a sustainable choice, especially not for buildings with an energy label worse than C. Substantial improvement of the energetic quality or a decision to demolish the old building and construction of  a new one both can result in a 50% reduction of environmental impacts.

More: Full Report in Dutch