Buildings, including those of historic significance, are increasingly at risk due to climate change, man-made and natural disasters. Capacity of a building to recover and adapt is informed by both internal and external factors that must be holistically considered. This paper explores related concepts of building functionality and recovery in reducing downtime and postulates that the retrofit of a building with the integrated and redundant systems often associated with sustainable design can enhance a buildings overall resilience. The preliminary factors needed to establish the functionality/recovery model are examined for San Francisco, California (USA), a city exposed to recurring risk of earthquakes and recognized by the Rockefeller Foundation for its resilience planning (100resilientcities.org). Two established community programs, BORP and SPUR, are analysed. An objective is to identify factors affecting downtime with a particular focus on those external to the building. The capacity of organizational and technical systems is considered thereby allowing a building to be understood in the broader context of a community's resilience. An example for building recovery is proposed that accounts for both internal functions and externalities, such as utilities, in order to inform buildings that are better able to recover and adapt in the face of future events.