The trend in the construction industry has shifted from building new to clean energy upgrades. But can contractors absorb the challenges of such overhauls?

About half of the commercial buildings in the U.S. were built in the 1980s, before global warming and sustainability were major concerns. Today, those structures consume 41 percent of the nation’s total energy use. As contractors factor in clean energy use in their projects, they’re seeing opportunities for green retrofits of older buildings to improve environmental performance.

But as ForConstructionPros.com notes, green retrofits pose significant economic challenges.

A traditional energy overhaul of a building (retrofits that include replacing mechanical systems, windows, insulation, and other features during a remodel) requires significant investment, and is therefore typically timed with major renovations or capital-intensive building system replacement. And in most cases that translates directly into a financing challenge – because to a bank with tight credit standards for buildings, hard complex, slow and expensive means risky.

ForConstructionPros.com points to Harvard Business Review’s findings that in order for retrofits to be more widely accepted, an industrialized approach is needed to reduce cost and simplify the decision-making process. The article goes on to make the case for retrofits as a way to reduce CO2 emissions, and cites the deep energy retrofit of the Byron Rogers Federal Office Building in Denver as one such successful retrofit example.

Find out more about how this particular project resulted in post-retrofit savings, along with specific measures that can improve building performance.