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Deconstruction-Green Demolition

Cheryl Sharp

What about Green Demolition?


Green demolition, better known as deconstruction, is the idea of keeping demolition waste from ending up in a landfill. The idea of green building and green products, however, is certainly not a new one.


We know that construction projects, due to overages, change orders, packaging and fuel for shipping generate literally tons of waste, about 178 million tons per year, according to the National Association for Home Builders. The industry has been aggressive in taking steps to reduce waste and the market has responded. Let’s face it; an entire profitable industry has sprung up around green building. This phenomenon has gone beyond a trend. It is now a culture, especially in coastal or more affluent areas.


What about green demolition? Why do we not hear as much talk about that? The Environmental Protection Agency uses a formula for calculating how much waste will be generated per building project. Let’s compare construction waste versus deconstruction waste. The EPA estimates an average of 4.38 pounds of debris per square foot of floor space. Therefore, building a 1,600 square foot house would result in 7,008 pounds or 3.504 tons of construction debris. For a residential single family home, the rate of waste for demolition is 61 pounds per square foot. Consequently, a single-family house of 1,600 square feet, when brought down, would result in 97,600 pounds of demolition debris, or 48.8 tons!


If the trend is to build green, then, providing you somehow generated zero construction waste to build your home, you only save three and a half tons or so of debris from going into a landfill. If you are really green, you would be more concerned with green wrecking. If you can recycle or reuse even half of the waste you take out of your project in order to remodel or rebuild, you can still save over eight times more debris from the landfill than you would by just green building!


Think about your carbon footprint and how you can never offset the damage done by demolition by green building, even if your home is the greenest home on the planet. By chosing the option of deconstrucction, you really do your part by keeping materials from going to the landfill.


Next Post: What can be recycled or reused from deconstruction?

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