Resource Conservation, Spring 2008: Deconstruction vs. Demolition
A report from the Environmental
Protection Agency estimates construction and demolition waste at roughly 164 million tons annually - this represents between 25 and 45% of the TOTAL waste stream, depending on the region. The EPA report states that about 245,000 houses in the United States are demolished every year,
creating nearly 20 million tons of debris.
According to the Building Materials Reuse Association, up to 85 percent of the average
house can be recycled or reused, but the current average is only 20-30%. Not only does this steady stream of waste clog landfills, but with the energy use due to buildings (operation and construction) estimated at nearly half of U.S. annual consumption, disposing of all of this useful, "energy-embodied" material is tragic and dangerous folly.
A growing trend is the choice for "deconstruction" or "demolition." Basically, the building (or portion thereof) is disassembled rather than demolished, and the materials are sorted and reused, both on and off site. While the upfront costs of deconstruction are generally higher than demolition, the materials are typically handled as a tax-deductible donation, which can often yield a savings to the homeowner. In addition, the deconstruction process is a more careful and clean one, which can make living near or through the process more pleasant and healthy. Furthermore, environmentally and cost conscious builders and remodelers can obtain these materials for their own projects at a steep discount. For historic home buffs, authentic materials, fixtures and fittings can lend authenticity to a project at an affordable price.
We'll conclude our description with a list of Bay Area deconstruction and architectural salvage companies and some links to related articles:
- Everything Old Is New Again by Stacey Freed, Remodeling Magazine, June 1, 2006
- Deconstructing the Future by Alice Bumgarner, Remodeling Magazine, March 1, 2007
- Recycling the Whole House by Kristina Shevory, New York Times Home and Garden, October 18, 2007
- Putting waste to good use by Tim Simmers, Palo Alto Daily News, March 7, 2008
- House Parts with a Pedigree by Catherine Siskos, Old House Journal
We are sorry if we appear the bearer of bad news, but we want to be "the bearer of important news." The good news is that many of these problems have accessible, affordable and pleasant solutions. Please stay tuned...
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