RHFAC™ Retrofits and Upgrades Cost Study

A mockup of the cover of the Retrofits and Upgrades Cost Study.

Retrofitting office buildings and K-12 schools to improve accessibility is not only feasible, it's cost-effective too.

Nearly half of Canadian adults have a permanent or temporary physical disability or live with someone who does– a trend that’s only expected to grow as the population ages. Despite an increasing awareness of these issues and efforts to remove barriers in new construction, many existing buildings remain inaccessible without the necessary upgrades to ensure meaningful access. This study explores the associated costs and strategies to retrofit existing buildings to achieve RHFAC Gold under the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) program version 3.0.

Key findings:

  • The extensive study estimates that RHF Accessibility Certified Gold can be achieved through upgrades in an office tower at less than 0.5% of the replacement cost, and in a K-12 school for less than 1.5% of the replacement cost.
  • As cost per square foot, the cost to retrofit to RHFAC Gold translates to $1.50 per square foot for office buildings, and $9.00 per square foot for K-12 schools.
  • When upgrades are amortized or completed over time periods of five, 10, or 15 years, those costs drop to as low as ten cents and sixty cents per square foot, respectively.
  • For office buildings, 64 of 99 potential upgrades (65%) cost $50K or less.
  • For K-12 schools, 117 of 167 of potential upgrades (70%) cost $50k or less.
  • With strategic planning and facility management, we can improve accessibility through upgrades that are both cost-effective and highly impactful.


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