Adaptive Reuse in Devens

Today we are talking about the valuable practice of adaptive reuse and how it moves us closer to the sustainable development goals in Devens Forward and the Reuse Plan. 

What is "adaptive reuse"?

Adaptive reuse, the practice of reusing and adapting existing buildings instead of contructing new ones, stands as a beacon of sustainability in the realm of urban development. By repurposing existing buildings and structures rather than demolishing them, adaptive reuse significantly reduces the environmental impact associated with construction. This practice minimizes the consumption of the embodied carbon in raw materials, energy, and resources required for new construction while simultaneously diverting waste from landfills. Moreover, adaptive reuse contributes to the preservation of cultural heritage and the reduction of carbon emissions associated with demolition. Through creative adaptation and renovation, buildings are given new life and functionality, often surpassing their original efficiency standards. As a result, adaptive reuse represents a pivotal strategy in sustainable development, aligning economic, social, and environmental objectives to create vibrant, resilient communities for generations to come. 

Adaptive reuse in Devens

The Devens Enterprise Commission encourages developers to consider the adaptive reuse of our community’s many empty and usable sites – largely former military facilities. Our perspective is that the greenest buildings are often the ones that already exist! There are a number of adaptive reuse success stories in our community that the DEC has had the pleasure of partnering on, take a look! 

  • Social services buildings 
    • Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry 
      • The pantry operates out of 234 Barnum Road, a reused Army building which has undergone several iterations of renovations to meet the pantry's needs as they evolved over the years.   
    • Clear Path 
      • One of Clear Path’s most significant achievements to date is the completion of the Journey Home Capital Project in 2020. This project involved the extensive renovation of a historic 22,000 square foot building that once served as an Army Headquarters and Hospital. This renovation significantly expanded Clear Path’s capacity to serve the local Veteran community. 
  • Cultural centers 
    • Fort Devens Museum & Freedom’s Way 
      • Both the Fort Devens Museum and Freedom’s Way operate out of 94 Jackson Rd. A reused army site now made into a multi-unit building for use, both the Museum and Freedom’s Way are able to share local history in an adapted historic building!  
  • Commercial buildings 
    • SMC and Werfen 
      • SMC and Werfen partnered to adapt and reuse a former Gillette building for their facilities. Today, the two companies share the adapted building and have made many renovations to suit their needs. 


Interested in exploring more about adaptive reuse in Devens? 

Check out our Climate Action Toolkit for Businesses to learn more.