Academic Commons


Retrofitting and the Epistemological Problem of Urban Sustainability

De Castro Mazarro, Alejandro; Albir, Adelaida; Lemaitre Palma, Jose Gabriel

The growing use of green building certificates within the construction industry reflects a societal shift towards environmentally sensitive practices. However, role of technology in providing sustainable commodities can be considered contradictory: while green building certificates neither incentivize, nor disincentivize new construction building in favor of refurbishing, they pose an implicit claim that new construction buildings can be, at the least, as sustainable as retrofitting ones. This paper adds to the rhetorical analysis of sustainability’s discourse by analyzing the gap existing among knowledge and discourse, in public policy arguments made regarding to the choice between building refurbishing and demolition. In the light of the analysis of main indicators of the “three pillars of sustainability” and follows a current policy debate at Bajos de Mena (Chile) where the discussion between opting for refurbishing and new building construction of social housing takes place. In doing so, the paper addresses the quantitative-bias leveraging a developmentalist approach towards urbanization, and highlights the underlying epistemological conflict eroding the notion of sustainability.


  • thumnail for De Castro Albir Lemaitre 2017 Retrofitting epistemological problem urban sustainability.pdf De Castro Albir Lemaitre 2017 Retrofitting epistemological problem urban sustainability.pdf application/pdf 1.16 MB Download File

Also Published In

Upland: Journal of Urban Planning, Landscape & environmental Design

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Published Here
March 14, 2018
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.