The value of buildings.

Buildings are investments.

In many ways, buildings are like children. Make the right investments in them, provide the right environment, and apply liberal doses of loving care and attention, and they generally pay huge dividends.

On the other hand, ignore them, mistreat them and leave them to fend for themselves and, well, you may end up suffering the consequences.

Just like raising children, buildings come with obligations, both explicit and implicit. And failing to keep a building up to its potential has consequences that go far beyond the building itself – it affects the community, the environment, and the health/safety/welfare of its occupants.

This is the first article in a series that will discuss the value of a building from five different perspectives:

  1. Exchange Value
  2. Use Value
  3. Culture Value
  4. Social Value
  5. Environmental Value

Together, these values comprise the totality of what it is to be a building.

We realize that a building is an inanimate structure, generally purpose-built, and intended to serve the needs of those who will occupy its space. But, just because a building is inanimate does not mean that it’s not dynamic – changing with the seasons, expanding and contracting, making work more enjoyable (or tedious), providing safe haven, requiring regular maintenance and (with rare exceptions) staying in pretty much the same spot for its lifetime, a testament to the vagaries of time and place.

Perhaps you’re wondering, “Why should I care about a building, especially one that I don’t own?”  The answer is probably addressed by one or more of the values listed above. You don’t have to be financially invested in a building to care about it.

Simply by being there a building becomes a part of your experience. You may walk past it every day, use it as a landmark to give directions, even comment on its beauty or ugliness from time to time.

You may work in it, play in it, pray in it, heal in it, eat in it, or shop in it. Buildings affect you in ways that you may – or may not – even be aware of. We will explore all of this in the series of blogs on The value of buildings.

Future blogs will examine:

  1. Exchange Value.  Buildings have a price tag – when they’re built, occupied and sold.
  2. Use Value.  Buildings enhance or inhibit what happens in and around them.
  3. Culture Value. Buildings can be visible manifestations of the culture of the society, and symbols of the culture of the companies and people who occupy it.
  4. Social Value.  Buildings can reflect the importance that a community – or a nation – puts on varying aspects of its built environment.
  5. Environmental Value. Buildings use huge amounts of materials during construction, and thereafter use energy and water in prodigious quantity to operate.

-Tom Miller

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