First Advisor

Margarette Leite

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Architecture and University Honors




Sustainable architecture, Architecture -- Conservation and restoration, Buildings -- Remodeling for other uses, Architecture and society, Buildings -- Salvaging, Building materials -- Recycling




Throughout the world a shift of focus from production to sustainability has begun to take hold. While the idea of sustainability and reuse became popular in the 1970’s, it has largely been ignored, but as time goes on, the ability for us to ignore it is diminishing. The field of architecture must recognize and embrace sustainable practices if we have any hope for a healthy and sustainable future. The writer of the book, Building Reuse, Kathryn Merlino recognized the truth of this idea in stating; “Buildings are the greatest contribution to climate change globally. Merlino’s book details the undeniable truth about the impact of building construction on the world, and the ways in which architects can be more responsible and resourceful with their designs. Buildings have a large impact on the environment beginning long before they are built and lasting long after they are torn down. When considering energy use in the United States, 75% of all electricity produced in the nation goes to building operation, and 47% of all energy.2 The CO2 emissions from building construction and operation is up to 40% of all emissions in the nation. These numbers alone begin to show the extent to which buildings influence the environment, and these don’t yet take into consideration the material use and waste that occurs in construction and demolition. In a study done by the Brookings Institute, they estimated that from 2003-2020 nearly 300 billion sq. ft. of the 427 billion sq. ft. of built environment will be demolished in the U.S. More than a third of the nations-built environment, and when one considers that 43% of all the nations construction and demolition (C&D) waste goes to the landfill, the influence of demolition becomes unimaginable. Taking into consideration the influence that architecture has on the environment, this thesis aims to present building reuse as a viable option for a great percentage of buildings, and not just those that are historically or culturally significant. Using Merino’s text as a backbone to this study, this paper will take into consideration several methods for evaluating the value of existing buildings and the decisions that must be made in order to determine if a building is worthy of renovation or of demolition. Finally, this paper will examine a building in the Portland area that I previously studied in a design course at PSU and considered for renovation.


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