Waste Reduction

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During the construction of a 2,000 square foot home, approximately 8,000 lbs of waste is sent to the landfill.  Last year, the United States generated over 140 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris.  Only ¼ of this waste was reused or recycled.

 

 

Construction Waste Reduction

One of the most obvious ways to reduce construction waste is to avoid making it in the first place.  This is accomplished through good planning and design. Waste can be greatly reduced by making small changes.  For example, pre-fabricated roof trusses and wall panels eliminate waste because the manufacturing process is more precise.  Also, by using standard sizes materials can be ordered more accurately, preventing excess materials from ending up in landfills..

 

 

Deconstruction vs. Demolition

Deconstructing buildings is an alternative to demolition that is much more environmentally responsible.  Unlike demolition when buildings are just bulldozed to the ground, deconstruction is a process that dismantles buildings so that salvageable materials are removed before the structure is torn down.

 

 

Recycle

Demolition and new construction generate tons of waste materials every year and only a small portion gets recycled.  The majority of items sent to landfills could be recycled into new building materials. Old windows can be recycled into new glass countertops and scrap metal can be turned into metal tiles.

 

 

Reuse

Items that seem to no longer serve a purpose can be given new life.  Stone can be used in landscaping, brick can be reused for building or pavement, and reclaimed wood trusses can be turned into new flooring.  This not only keeps the materials out of the landfill, it also reduces the need to buy new materials.  There are various organizations that facilitate the reuse of construction materials.  Habitat for Humanity ReStore accepts building materials and surplus items to be sold to the public.  This  prevents waste while providing funding for Habitat for Humanity’s work.