Office building conversion and sustainable conversion

Remøy, H. and S.J. Wilkinson. 2012.  Office building conversion and sustainable conversion: a comparative study. Property Management (30) 3, pp 218-231.


Purpose – The City of Melbourne seeks to retrofit 1,200 CBD properties by 2020 as part of the strategy to become carbon neutral, whilst Amsterdam aims to cut CO2 emissions 40 per cent by 2025. Oversupply in the Amsterdam office market makes conversion to residential use viable. In examining converted buildings in Amsterdam and the Melbourne CBD typical attributes of converted stock can be identified to target retrofit measures. This paper seeks to focus on these initiatives.

Design/methodology/approach – In Amsterdam five case studies were undertaken to reveal and define building attributes that explain the viability of these conversions. On the other hand, the Melbourne study was based on a database assembled containing all Melbourne CBD office building adaptations carried out between 1998 and 2008. The research analysed the conversion of office buildings and the scope for sustainable retrofit evaluating a limited number of attributes known to be important in adaptation.
Findings – The outcomes of this research showed similarities and differences in scope, which are relevant to all urban areas where adaptation of office buildings can mitigate the impacts of climate change and enhance a city for another generation of citizens and users.

Practical implications – The outcomes highlight the property attributes that explain conversion viability and that are most strongly associated with conversions. In addition the research identifies some sustainability measures that are possible with this type of stock.

Originality/value – The paper compares and contrasts qualitative data from a small sample of buildings in Amsterdam with quantitative data from a census of all change of use adaptations in Melbourne from 1998 to 2008. The contrasting approaches make it possible both to explain the driving forces of adaptations and to deliver statistical evidence of what is described in the case studies. Despite the differing approaches it is possible to compare and contrast the attributes of properties from both cities.

Keywords: Offices, Sustainability, Building adaptation, Australia, The Netherlands, Office buildings, Sustainable development

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