Top urban news, trends and reports curated for the world’s city leaders. Edited by David Hatch

Cities missing opportunities to retrofit existing buildings

An industrial rainwater-harvesting system in California. Cities are missing significant opportunities to increase efficiency and undertake other resilience measures in existing buildings, a report warns. (Seaotter22/Flickr/cc)

Mayors intent of transforming their municipalities into smart cities might want to hold off on the sensors and computerized nerve centers. Eric Mackres reports for The City Fix that the building blocks for urban innovation are the everyday structures that need retrofits.

Homes, offices, stores, businesses, factories and so on cover 50 percent or more of most city lands. Yet when it comes to upgrades, flashier innovations are taking precedent. “Buildings are often ignored as public service providers, despite their prevalence in urban life,” Mackres writes.

There’s ample room to increase the energy efficiency of existing structures, the article says. Potential improvements range from rainwater capture and recycling to automation and data analytics. Self-sufficient buildings can even generate and sell electricity. Unfortunately, “investments in buildings often lag, leaving significant potential untapped,” the author laments. 

The City Fix

More from Citiscope

Latest Commentary