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Office Towers and K-12 Schools can be Retrofitted Cost-Effectively to Improve Accessibility: Study

New research on the costs and strategies to retrofit existing office towers and schools to improve accessibility has been published by the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) and architecture and design firm hcma.

The study estimates that RHF Accessibility Certified Gold can be achieved through upgrades in an office tower at less than 0.5 per cent of the replacement cost, and in a K-12 school for less than 1.5 per cent of the replacement cost.

The study also outlines strategies that management can take in order to increase the feasibility of upgrades as well as cost-effectively improving accessibility for people of all ages and abilities.

According to the study, almost 50 per cent of adults in Canada have experienced a permanent or temporary physical disability or live with someone who has. 

The study included 10 RHFAC rated office towers and 10 RHFAC rated schools, all of which were built between 1974-2019 in B.C. and Ontario, in or near large urban centres. The researchers then developed prototype buildings based on typical conditions and features of these sites in order to determine average costs to retrofit.

Important factors for owners and operators to consider when deciding which accessibility upgrades to undertake to improve meaningful access to their buildings include life and safety, dignity, overall impact of upgrades, and integration with other currently planned upgrades.

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