Implementation challenges to the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings: Towards the goals of sustainable, low carbon cities

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

266 Citations (Scopus)


It is well acknowledged that low carbon emissions is one of the key factors contributing to sustainable urban development and effectively tackling climate change. Adaptive reuse of buildings is a form of sustainable urban regeneration, as it extends the building's life and avoids demolition waste, encourages reuses of the embodied energy and also provides significant social and economic benefits to the society. Thus, it embraces the different dimensions of sustainability. However, the debates over which sustainability factors are key, and how to address them all in practice, remain unresolved. This study begins with an intensive literature review of the factors that contribute to the goal of sustainable development in the conservation of built heritage. This is followed by in-depth interviews with practitioners who have participated in adaptive reuse projects in Hong Kong. These interviews confirm the reliability of the shortlisted sustainability factors. More importantly, this paper examines the challenges in incorporating a sustainability framework into adaptive reuse projects. The authors stress that the framework for achieving sustainable, low carbon adaptive reuse should be viewed more holistically, integrating social, economic, environmental, urban and political policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-361
Number of pages10
JournalHabitat International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Adaptive reuse
  • Built heritage
  • Hong kong
  • Low carbon city
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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