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Real estate transformation and revitalisation

General planning for existing buildings

Building transformation - alternative to demolition and new construction

The transformation of existing buildings is one of the top issues of the coming decades! Social change in the areas of work, mobility, and retail requires all market participants in the property industry to rethink how they deal with their building stock to avoid stranded assets.

By Michael Sommer, Architect, CANZLER GmbH

Transformation in the building stock

Avoid stranded assets!

According to statistics from the Federation of German Industries, over 70 % of buildings in Germany are more than 30 years old. Around 65% of facades are uninsulated and a further 20% of buildings are no longer state of the art. Buildings with high CO2 emissions lose a lot of their value and can no longer be sold on the commercial property market, making them stranded assets. Environmental risks such as ecological challenges, new government regulations or changing social standards can cause existing users to move away.

Avoiding vacancies, increasing requirements for sustainable building concepts and achieving climate targets as part of the EU taxonomy and ESG criteria are therefore increasingly determining the actions of property and finance industry players. Classic transformation properties include, in particular, the conversion and subsequent use of office buildings, shopping centres and factory buildings. The conversion of single-used buildings into mixed-used buildings often enhances the surrounding area in terms of urban development and architecture and makes a significant contribution to urban regeneration.

Circular economy as a driver

In the transformation of buildings that are no longer required for operational purposes, the conservation of resources and reusability of building materials are becoming increasingly important in terms of the circular economy. Scarce availability of raw materials and rising producer prices are also considered significant drivers for focussing on existing buildings. Added to this are the rising costs of demolition and disposal, which provide good arguments in favour of reusing existing buildings. There are already many positive examples of buildings being used as a source of materials, dismantled and reused with certificates. The production of concrete alone is responsible for 8% of global annual carbon dioxide emissions.


Users want flexibility and sustainable operation

When it comes to revitalisation, however, property owners and users face particular challenges. Increases in income and value, as well as rental price stability, must be harmonised with requirements for sustainability, flexibility and high-quality fittings.

There is a particular need for action if user requirements change or the size or technical/constructional standard is no longer up to date. The demand for environmentally friendly technologies in building operation and changes in user behaviour have an impact on both investments and future tenancies. For example, users are paying more attention to sustainable building operation, building products used and the possibility of adapting existing room structures to the changing world of work and new technologies. At the same time, property owners need to keep an eye on the limited useful life of building components and the stringent requirements for preventive fire protection.


Portfolio development along the CREM path

It is advisable to monitor CO₂ pricing and the CREM (Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor) pathway during transformation processes and to align all measures with the targets and their achievability. The building stock in particular offers great potential for decarbonisation, as properties in the EU consume around 38% of energy and cause 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions. An effective lever for reducing climate-damaging CO₂ emissions in buildings is the increased use of renewable energy sources and the conversion to more efficient technologies in order to reduce energy consumption.

With the transformation and revitalisation of existing buildings, it is possible to guarantee high earnings security and increase the value of the property for the entire life cycle with sustainable usage concepts and the lowest possible CO2 emissions.

The aim is to sustainably reorganise properties threatened by vacancy through technical, structural, functional and, finally, design measures.


Competent partner throughout the entire life cycle of the property

The transformation and revitalisation of properties is a complex process that requires a high level of experience and expertise. CANZLER has been supporting investors and portfolio holders in the repositioning of existing properties for over 20 years - from project initiation to project realisation and commissioning management. Complex challenges often arise at the beginning of a project development in existing buildings: In addition to evaluating the load-bearing structure and building structure, comprehensive knowledge of fire protection, building law and a wide range of standards must be considered. To be able to implement resource-saving energy concepts, the entire technical building equipment and the site conditions must be considered.


Illustrations: private