Construction and demolition (C&D) materials account for almost 22 percent of the waste stream. Many of these materials can be reused or recycled, thus prolonging our supply of natural resources and potentially saving money in the process. Common C&D materials include lumber, drywall, metals, masonry (brick, concrete, etc.), carpet, plastic, pipe, rocks, dirt, paper, cardboard, or green waste related to land development. Of these, metals are the most commonly recycled material while lumber makes up the majority of debris that still goes to a landfill.
At the end of a building’s life, demolition generates large amounts of materials that can be reused or recycled, principally wood, concrete, other types of masonry and drywall. Rather than demolish an entire building, consider “deconstructing” all or part of the structure. Deconstruction is the orderly dismantling building components for reuse or recycling. In contrast to demolition, where buildings are knocked down and materials are either landfilled or recycled, deconstruction involves carefully taking apart portions of buildings or removing their contents with the primary goal being reuse. It can be as simple as stripping out cabinetry, fixtures, and windows, or as involved as manually taking apart the building frame.
The business of recovering, processing and marketing demolition and construction materials is a mainstream activity for the demolition, solid waste and construction industries. In today's business environment the customers of these firms, and the economic benefits of the activities, are demanding that recycling take pace.
At the same time, the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ) program and others, have gained substantial traction. As corporations, public institutions, government agencies, universities and others work to manage the impact their activities have on the environment, "going green" has become an important mandate in their building programs.
For more information about sustainable building products and methods, check the following resources: