Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Converting vacant offices to apartments would be a win for the climate » Yale Climate Connections

In many cities, formerly lively business districts are eerily quiet. For years, office vacancies have been increasing. And since the pandemic, more offices are empty than ever before. Meanwhile …

Hoskins: “There is a massive shortage of residential units across the United States.”

Diane Hoskins is co-CEO of Gensler, the world’s largest architecture firm, and co-author of a new book, “Design for a Radically Changing World.”

She says turning some of those vacant office buildings into apartments could create much-needed housing — and help the climate.

Hoskins: “Anytime we reuse an existing building, instead of building a new building, we are reducing carbon emissions on planet Earth.”

That’s because repurposing a building dramatically reduces the need for new concrete and steel, which create a lot of carbon pollution.

Many office buildings are not suitable for apartments — for example, because they have large interior areas with no windows.

But Gensler estimates that perhaps a quarter are candidates for conversion. And with hundreds of millions of square feet of vacant office space across the country, that could add up to a lot of housing, without a lot more carbon pollution.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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