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Not all buildings are worth refurbishing

15th November 2023

A rigid focus on refurbishment risks leaving some assets not just stranded but abandoned, Patrizia’s UK & Ireland development chief warns.

In an interview published on the European real estate investment manager’s website, Dan Williams, head of development for the UK & Ireland talks about “brown to green” refurbishments, saying: ““We believe in the opportunity to move brown into green. It is one of those rare examples where there is a strong investment case and, at the same time, it will make a real difference to cities.”

However, he also notes that some buildings simply cannot be refurbished, especially in the office sector. In a difficult office market, investors are reluctant to fund retrofitting a redundant building. The issue is complicated by the fact that many office blocks were only built to last 25-30 years.

“You can end up with weird circular arguments concerning embodied carbon,” Williams said. “Yes, we should be reusing buildings, we shouldn’t be knocking them down, but the question arises: if you can’t reuse them, what do you do with them? This is particularly relevant when there is a housing crisis going on across Europe.”

Property owners and developers need to look again at the impact of construction and redo calculations concerning refurbishment and construction. When developers are looking to construct, Williams said, they need to look to the longer term – up to 100 years, which will also impact costs.

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