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Office building adaptation and the growing significance of environmental attributes

Sara J. Wilkinson (Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




The purpose of this study was to investigated the importance of environmental attributes for office building adaptation and whether the importance of environmental attributes for adaptation has changed over time from 1998-2008 to 2009-2011. With 1-2 per cent added to the total stock of buildings each year and the need to take action to mitigate the impacts of predicted climate change (IPCC, 2013), it is necessary to focus efforts on adaptation of existing buildings.


This research adopted a quantitative approach, using a database of office building attributes and applying principal component analysis to ascertain the respective importance of various building attributes in adaptation. Using two databases; the first dating from 1998 to 2008 and comprising 5,290 adaptation events and the second covering the period 2009 to 2011 and comprising 1,272 adaptation events, a comparison of results was undertaken.


The findings indicate the importance of some environmental attributes in building adaptation has changed and that legislation and changes market perceptions towards to promote built environment sustainability may be having a positive impact. The research demonstrates that different property attributes vary in importance over time and used existing buildings in an international city to confirm application to urban settlements elsewhere where existing buildings can be adapted to reduce the effect of climate change.

Research limitations/implications

The databases are limited to Melbourne, Australia and to these specific points in time. It is possible that other cities are seeing changes in adaptation practices to accommodate increased awareness and the growing importance attributed to environmental issues; however, additional studies would be required to ascertain whether the level of importance was stronger or weaker than that found in Melbourne.

Practical implications

The impacts of the mandatory The National Australian Built Environment Rating System energy rating tool and the Green Star voluntary tool provide actionable data for property stakeholders and the academic community. Policy-makers can see that building owners are integrating environmental attributes into their stock and that the market is shifting towards increased sustainability. This study uses real world data to feed the scholarship process, with real economic and commercial impacts. New buildings account for about 1-2 per cent of the total building stock annually and existing buildings must be adapted, and thus the questions of the success of voluntary or mandatory measures are essential to future environmental decision-making.


This research reports on data covering all office building adaptation conducted from 1998 to 2011 in the Melbourne CBD. As such, it is a comprehensive analysis of all works undertaken and how the significance of different physical, social, economic and environmental attributes is changing over time.



J. Wilkinson, S. (2014), "Office building adaptation and the growing significance of environmental attributes", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 252-265.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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