The Greenest Building is the Existing Building

Real Estate Agent with Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 SA5376460000

How is it possible that an existing, potentially inefficient building, is the greenest building?  After all, existing buildings have been built years before with higher energy bills, potentially using more water, and producing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere!  Yes, yes and yes.  


But the existing building has already been built.  


Consider that every time a building is built, new products have to be manufactured and shipped for distribution.   Once those products are at distribution centers, they are transported again by trains or trucks to another destination.  Once at that destination, they may encounter yet another distribution center to be sent directly that final destination - a home, condo or commercial building for installation.  At that final location, manpower and equipment are used to install and construct that new building.  Between transportation emissions, fuel, and production, THAT’s embodied carbon, and a lot of carbon! 


That's why the Greenest Building is the Existing Building! 


Existing buildings can be modified for a fraction of the carbon footprint by remodeling.  If cabinets are left in place and painted ore refinished again, the carbon footprint is in the products used, not the installation of new products.


If you're looking to remodel, try to use locally produced products to lower the carbon footprint for your remodel.  By doing so, you'll keep tax dollars in your state benefiting your city's economy and supporting local businesses.  


So the next time you look at a shiny new building, consider the production, transportation and installation of every facet of that “new “ building!    The Greenest Building is the Existing Building for what's already taken place to put it together.


This is post is part of a series on Sustainability.  

Posted by

Search the Arizona Regional MLS

Search for Homes



HomeSmart Elite Group                                  

8388 E Hartford Dr., Suite 100

Scottsdale, AZ 85255                                                         

(602) 620-2699   DIRECT                  facebook   Google + twitter   youtube   linkedin   pinterest   


Comments (21)

Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

This is the BEST post I've seen/read on being green Jan Green . So many people deny or ignore the building/manufacturing process. Great job of explaining it all. Green energy is another area that people don't follow the process, especially wind energy and the disposal of those giant fiberglass blades when they hit their end of life cycle.

Jan 19, 2022 08:37 AM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you for commenting Carol Williams .  Most people only consider new buildings better.  One way to look at it - we have the most diverse housing stock EVER.  From completely inefficient old style Adobe that leak air to super Net Zero homes! 

Jan 19, 2022 09:53 AM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you for reading and commenting Bob "RealMan" Timm !  That's one of the first things you learn when studying sustainable building practices.  This is the least costly to the environment, too.  I'm sure someone has thought of recycling those big blades! 

Check out this article on Recycling Wind Turbine Blades


Jan 19, 2022 09:55 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Your post made a wonderful point about building efficiency.  Wishing you a great day.  A

Jan 19, 2022 10:20 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Jan- even though Larry is a retired builder, we have never liked seeing a perfectly good home or commercial building being torn down to make way for something new. It's necessary at times but you see so much of it. 

Jan 19, 2022 01:25 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you Ron and Alexandra Seigel !  Appreciate your read :)

It's sad too Kathy Streib .  A mall was just torn down a block from my house.  The new one will be beautiful, but it's sad that so much is going into the landfill!  

Jan 19, 2022 09:19 PM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

That makes complete sense and it seems that buildings built long ago were built in a much more solid manner than they are at times these days.  Will I be seeing you for lunch today?

Jan 20, 2022 04:38 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

"Existing buildings can be modified for a fraction of the carbon footprint by remodeling," Jan Green 

Jan, your posts are always educational and smart. There are many buildings being torn down outside of Flower Mound due to age or whatever... Most are because developers bought the vacated shopping centers and starting something new. But in the mean time, I find it sad to see all that excavation, animals, plants, trees, and even people displaced. I can really appreciate what you have to say and the stands you take on the real estate industry. Thanks for another meaningful post and an eye-opener day!

Jan 20, 2022 04:43 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Jan - so many points to consider here.  

Jan 20, 2022 04:54 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

That's a good point about existing versus new construction.

Enjoy your Thursday!

Jan 20, 2022 05:57 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Jan - I had a home energy audit and found that I could do minimal disruption and installation to seal my energy window.  I was pleased.

Jan 20, 2022 06:22 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

This makes total sense to me Jan!  Great article!

Jan 20, 2022 03:58 PM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

So true. Why start completely over? What a waste. It's interesting,  we are listing a house this Spring that was built in 1940, the sellers were marveling at how efficient it is in terms of heating and cooling. ( They replaced windows, etc) The original quality of construction was very good and the 2 x 6 walls add up to better insulation. 

Jan 21, 2022 07:33 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is good advice to share.

Take care, be safe and have a lovely weekend.

Jan 22, 2022 06:05 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

So many buyers fail to realize that there are advantages to an existing home, especially on the landscaping that have already matured.  With costs being what they are it would serve better to do a fresh coat of paint and enjoy the home.

Jan 22, 2022 08:31 AM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Sometimes Brian England , sometimes.  The old adobe is less efficient than a new adobe home.  There are solidly built homes that make your case!  Great lunch as always Brian! 

It's sad Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP !  BUT sometimes the old buildings are too expensive to remodel due to toxic features inside them.  This happened with my daughter's elementary school many years ago.  The school had mold in it!  Appreciate your read and opinions friend! 

Yes Michael Jacobs a lot goes into making informed decisions.  For our clients, it's always a good idea to offer alternatives! 


Jan 22, 2022 05:53 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you Kat Palmiotti  - enjoy your Sunday!

Good job Grant Schneider ! Sealing windows is a great way to stop air leaks and avoid replacement all together.  Windows have a 17+ year return on investment so it's a good idea to seal them! 

Thank you Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker !

Great story Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD !  It's exciting when you see people do great renovations that are a benefit for years to come! 


Jan 22, 2022 05:56 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you Roy Kelley !  Appreciate your read :)

Amen Ed Silva !  I have a feeling with low inventory buyers are opting to remodel and stay  because if they sold, what would they buy?!  Renovations must be through the roof right now everywhere, pun intended!  Have a great Sunday!

Jan 22, 2022 05:58 PM
Adam Feinberg
Elegran - Manhattan, NY
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse specialist

This is a topic that I know little about, though in my market, I am not sure if the existing building is going be the greenest option. Larger apartment buildings in NYC are now getting efficiency ratings. It can be extremely expensive to retrofit a 75 or 100 unit apartment building built in the 1930's. That said- I expect to hear a lot more about this topic in the coming months and years ahead. 

Jan 22, 2022 10:43 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

It is probably more costly to heat a 21 ft or a 3 story high new ceiling house than it is to upgrade/insulate a traditional 8 footer home. Some recess lights use insensely more electricity than older florenscent or LED lights. Power plant has to work harder emitting more steam, pollutant because of the additional demand...

Jan 24, 2022 08:21 AM