In practice: Sustainable Cities

  • A recent study from the UK found that it takes 35 to 50 years for an energy-efficient new home to recover the carbon expended in constructing it. Replacing a historic building with a new one also involves higher consumption of energy in terms of the building’s fabric. Historic houses are built from brick, plaster, concrete and timber, or even mud-brick, which are among the least energy consumptive of materials. The major components of new buildings, on the other hand, plastic, steel, vinyl and aluminium, are among the most energy consumptive of materials.
  • Similarly the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in the UK has tracked the rates of return for heritage office buildings for the past 21 years and has found that listed buildings have consistently outperformed the comparable unlisted buildings, and in Quito land value increases in the historic district have outperformed land elsewhere in the city. Analysis carried out in Canada has also supported this trend, with heritage buildings performing much better than average in the market place and the price of heritage houses being less affected by cyclical downturns in property values.

Economic Returns of Urban Revitalization

  • Donovan Rypkema, President of Heritage Strategies International, has shown how conserving the historic environment has economic benefits and creates jobs. For example in the US, a million dollars invested in the rehabilitation of a heritage building created 18.1 jobs and 750,000 USD in salary and wages, compared with 14.9 jobs and 616,000 USD in households income for new constructions, 3.5 jobs and 245,000 USD of wages in the automobile industry and 4 jobs and 255,000 USD in wages in the manufacture of computers. 
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