Retrofitting is the process of modifying something after it has been manufactured.
Retrofitting a building involves changing its systems or structure after its initial construction and occupation. This work can improve amenities for the building’s occupants and improve the performance of the building. As technology develops, building retrofits can significantly reduce energy and water usage.
Retrofitting an existing building can oftentimes be more cost-effective than building a new facility. Since buildings consume a significant amount of energy, particularly for heating and cooling, and because existing buildings comprise the largest segment of the built environment, it is important to initiate energy conservation retrofits to reduce energy consumption and the cost of heating, cooling, and lighting buildings. But conserving energy is not the only reason for retrofitting existing buildings. The goal should be to create a high-performance building by applying the integrated, whole-building design process, to the project during the planning or charrette phase that ensures all key design objectives are met.
For example, the integrated project team may discover a single design strategy that will meet multiple design objectives. Doing so will mean that the building will be less costly to operate, will increase in value, last longer, and contribute to a better, healthier, more comfortable environment for people in which to live and work. Improving indoor environmental quality, decreasing moisture penetration, and reducing mold all will result in improved occupant health and productivity. Further, when deciding on a retrofit, consider upgrading for accessibility, safety and security at the same time. The unique aspects for retrofit of historic buildings must be given special consideration. Designing major renovations and retrofits for existing buildings to include sustainability initiatives will reduce operation costs and environmental impacts, and can increase building adaptability, durability, and resiliency.