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In California’s Old Buildings, A Window Of Opportunity Presents Itself


California’s historic buildings are entering the modern age. 

As smart buildings become the new face of the commercial real estate industry, older buildings have to keep up. With energy efficiency top of mind, property managers across the state are investing in services to make their buildings more sustainable. Instead of demolishing outdated buildings, they are refurbishing to attract and retain tenants. These updates are contributing to a shift toward eco-cities, and California is at the forefront of the movement.

“The most sustainable thing we can do is to not build new stuff,” AJ+C architect Peter Ireland said to The Guardian. “Everything is an asset until we prove it otherwise. A lot of demolition doesn’t make sense.”

In the U.S., buildings and structures make up 41% of the nation’s total energy use, according to the Harvard Business Review. In large cities and urban areas like Los Angeles, that number increases to approximately 70%. 

The state of California recently enacted legislation to make buildings more sustainable. The California Building Standards Commission and California Energy Commission’s Title 24 legislation regulates energy consumption in buildings across the state. Los Angeles has adopted a comprehensive plan to save water and energy in buildings, and is leading other U.S. cities in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing solar energy. To make way for a future of sustainability, property managers and contractors throughout the state are preparing existing buildings for adaptive reuse. 


One company leading this movement is Campbell Window Film. Brad Campbell, the company's CEO and founder, has developed a process that allows building owners to revitalize the appearance of their older properties while increasing the energy efficiency of the building envelope using a process he has coined building re-imaging.

“We are changing the perception of the property by dramatically improving and modernizing the appearance and energy efficiency to increase property value, attract new tenants and demand better rent rates," he said.

One building re-imaging project is underway at 9701 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills.


“The materials used in the building’s original construction were various shades of brown and the owner wanted to freshen up the look with new, brighter colors while enhancing the energy efficiency of the glazing," Campbell said.

Campbell and his on-site team modernized the view glass, painted the window mullions and aluminum panels and resurfaced the spandrel with custom colors. This rejuvenation renewed the property’s curb appeal without reconstructing the building, reglazing or recladding, saving energy and resources without sending any materials to the landfill.

Campbell Window Film’s facade re-imaging services serve two main functions: to modernize a building’s look and feel and to reduce energy consumption by using energy-efficient resurfacing materials. After a thorough design and review process to establish a custom solution, Campbell’s team renovates the surfaces to meet Title 24 standards, a process that is minimally disruptive to tenants and can often be completed in less time than other solutions that require demolition and extensive construction.

“Re-imaging or modernizing gives these buildings a new lease on life,” Campbell said.

In many cases, an old building can present property managers with an opportunity to innovate.

“Everyone has one or two buildings in their portfolio that have that '70s or '80s architecture style,” Campbell said. “To attract tenants, property managers are changing the aesthetics of these buildings. Recladding, reglazing and exoskeletons are costly, but adaptive reuse allows these buildings to be modernized in a sustainable way.”

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