What Is Retrofit?

Essentially, a retrofit is when you add new additions to older frameworks. This allows you to systematically upgrade, without the wastage of destroying the old framework – such as a building skeleton. Due to growing limitations on land use and awareness of sustainability concerns, the building retrofit market has faced increasing opportunities worldwide.  Identifying the most appropriate retrofitting options is essential, given the potential costs and impacts involved.  To please the final occupant’s needs and requirements, the building expert has to reconcile some factors, such as environmental, energy-related, financial, legal regulation, and social factors. A thorough building retrofit evaluation takes a lot of work to undertake. The main issue is identifying innovative technologies that will be more effective and reliable in the long term.  A building and its environment are complex systems since they must take many aspects into account: – economical, – technical, – technological, – ecological, – social,  comfort, and esthetical aspects, among others.   All these sub-systems influence efficiency performance. Furthermore, the interdependence between sub-systems plays a significant role. Retrofitting can make any perform better structure. This includes bridges, buildings,  heritage sites, etc. There is a common belief that this sort of retrofitting project is just for commercial buildings. However, domestic properties can also be retrofit.    Retrofitting is particularly beneficial for the construction industry. In case of any natural disaster or seismic activity. For example, if your building suffers damage by flooding or structural problems. It can help reduce the vulnerability of damage, making them more resistant. Furthermore, it can add new characteristics or technology to the old structure, like solar panels, smart meters, and sustainable water and heating systems. Can help make buildings more energy-efficient. Adding insulation, air sealing, and other features help keep heat in and cold out. Can add smart energy retrofits by adding energy-efficient systems and automation.  Even the oldest buildings can consume less energy with smart energy retrofitting. This means that the building will be more efficient and therefore cheaper to run, have a lower impact on the environment, and the higher energy rating that comes with this can increase the property’s value.  

Types Of Retrofitting In The Construction Industry

  There are many ways to retrofit a building to improve its performance and safety. This depends on its size and structure.  Some of the most common types of retrofitting include:
  • New construction. Are building to replace a damaged construction.
  • Repairing. 
  • Fixing cracks in walls. 
  • Replacing windows. 
  • Process of repairing an existing structure by
  • Retrofitting the concrete structure. By adding new structural elements or strengthening existing elements.
  • Retrofitting the masonry structure. Make alterations to the masonry work in a building to perform it better.
  • Upgrading. The electrical, heating/cooling, plumbing, structural steel, etc.
 

Green Retrofit

  Green retrofit is a sustainable way of improving energy and resource efficiency.  The primary intention of green retrofitting existing buildings is to improve building energy efficiency and service level.    Green retrofit has been studied by researchers in countries around the world, such as: – Germany, – Italy, – Australia, – Singapore, – the UK, and – the USA.    In most European Union countries, it is estimated that building energy savings of 20% can be achieved by 2030. Building green retrofit has become an effective driver to enhance energy and resource efficiency worldwide. Despite the importance of building green retrofit globally, the rate of green retrofitting of existing buildings still needs to be higher. For example, Europe’s rate is only 0.4–1.2% per year.  Various barriers hinder the promotion of green retrofitting of existing buildings, such as the uncertainties about energy saving, rebate time, energy usage measurements, the high upfront investment required, and the lack of financial resources. The availability of green technologies is another challenge to achieving green building retrofit. Other challenges, such as, building retrofit awareness, a lack of relevant knowledge, limited retrofitting experience, and information asymmetries, hinder the implementation of building green retrofit.  

Techniques and methods of retrofitting

  The following are the most usual method of retrofitting a building.  

1. Retrofitting of the Structural Components

  Jacketing:  This type of retrofitting is mainly used for the beam and column to improve load-bearing capacity, drainage, and rideability, or to protect underlying concrete elements from aggressive environments. Jacketing consists of binding plates named jackets. Jackets are positioned around the perimeter of the column and other structural members. The plates are made up of fiber-reinforced polymer(FRP). Most of the time, high-tensile steel wires are covered around the elements. Prestressed concrete is used for Jacketing. This expands the load-carrying capacity of any structural member.  

2. Retrofitting of the Structural System

  Beam Addition Method In this method, beams are added within the central girders of the existing concrete deck. This improves the load-carrying capability of each unit.   Seismic Wall Addition Method This method is often used in bridge retrofitting. Reinforced concrete walls are set between the main reinforced bridge pier. This relieves the load intensity on each pier.   Seismic Isolation Method During a quake, the seismic isolation method prevents damage. In addition, dampers are used to enhance the implementation of structures. Some standard dampers are elastoplastic dampers, tuned liquid dampers, friction dampers, etc.  

3. Retrofitting of Foundation

  Pile Addition Methods Adding extra piles to the extant ones is possible to expand the load-carrying capability and efficiency of the structure.   Ground Improvement Techniques When the soil has insufficient loadbearing capacity, it’s necessary to use these techniques.  Many general ground improvement techniques involve the entire structure, such as soil cement stabilization, and mechanical stabilization, among others.  

4. Retrofitting of Historic Structures

  Post-Tensioning Older structures are suitable for compaction but weak in tension. So, it is necessary to do post-tensioning to enhance the structure’s tensile strength.   Epoxy Epoxy injection replenishes and improves structural faults or non-moving cracks. Concrete walls, slabs, columns, and piers, are all suitable for epoxy.  

Advantages and Disadvantages of Retrofitting

Advantages

  1. The building can still be operated/inhabited during construction.
  2. Retrofitting will take relatively lower construction costs than new construction, even with similar structural performance achievements.
  3. Retrofitting will involve fewer resources than reconstructing.—either human resources or natural resources.
  4. Retrofitting will not significantly change the building’s configuration and shape. This is preferable when the retrofitted building has historical value.
  5. Retrofitting the building will produce less debris than reconstructing the building.
 

Disadvantages

  1. The skilled worker must follow the adopted retrofitting approaches.
  2. Limited access to the construction site since the building could still be in use.
  Final thoughts The primary goal behind retrofitting or repair works is to extend the service life, enhance the structure’s performance or increase the load-bearing capacity.  Thus, it is crucial to consider the leading cause of the deterioration before any retrofitting work. Treating the symptoms without a proper understanding of the main cause of the problems will lead to camouflaged defects. So, an accredited retrofit assessor should assess the work. If you need any assistance, reach out to us here at Buildrite Construction. We’re experts in retrofitting commercial and residential buildings.