Financial and real estate crises and “new ways of working” reduce the need for office space. At the same time, many markets experience overproduction, as new office space is added to the market. As a consequence, these markets are imbalanced replacement markets without a quantitative need for new office buildings. When relocating, office organisations consider buildings and locations within geographically defined markets that optimally facilitate their main processes, reduce costs, optimise flexibility, and support image and financial yield. Sustainability is important for organisations to define their image and comply with customer expectations. Hitherto, new office developments were the response to this demand. Meanwhile, in the Dutch context, vacancy, financial scarcity, public opinion and governmental policy oppose new office construction in locations with high vacancy. 

New strategies are needed to respond to the demand for sustainable office space, limit new office developments and take responsibility for buildings that are left vacant. Adaptive reuse of the existing building stock and developing new adaptive buildings could be the key. 

This paper aims at revealing the most sustainable strategy for owner/users when assessing the reuse potential of existing office real estate, looking at economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability. The building’s life span plays a small role in most sustainability assessment methods, whereas in this study, the life span perspective is central to the re-use and new development strategies that are considered.