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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Buildings, Real Estate and Facilities > Green Building Practices for Sustainable Facilities

Green Site Deconstruction

Green building is also about green deconstruction of old buildings and smart solutions for remodeling that reuses materials as is, or as reclaimed material.

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Conventional demolition of a building mushes everything up in an inert lump and hauls it to the landfill. But today, there are options.

"To put this in perspective, the demolition of a typically 2,500 square foot home can produce over 25 tons of debris," says Toni Renee Vierra of eco-Organize in Napa, CA.

Deconstruction can sort out the steel, aluminum, plastic, glass and hazardous waste and give it a recycled life. And keep the methane and toxins out of the landfill, and out of our air.

Green site preparation takes more planning and coordination in the short term tactics, but the long term payoff is worth sorting and sifting the materials before they get folded, spindled and mutilated.

Landfill becomes the last option for building by-products.

This materials reclamation is a zero waste approach It's a life-cycle extension and one facet of sustainable communities that foster cradle to cradle construction.

So hire sorters instead of wrecking balls. Sell reclaimed antiques and classic architectural elements and reusable materials. Earn LEED points. Save your kids' future air quality and water quality and regional soil quality for quality food sourcing.

During the first deconstruction phase, items like reclaimed wood, brick, and rock and reusable or recyclable fixtures and furniture are extracted.

Demolishing the envelop is phase two. Here, all the remaining debris is site-sorted, meaning things like /rebar are separated from concrete, clean wood studs are separated from drywall, lathe separated from plaster. Once demolition is complete, there is an assortment of piles i.e., clean wood, drywall, metal.

At this point, you save money by avoiding the cost of renting dumpsters and paying tipping fees at the landfill.

There may be an opportunity for a tax donation benefit for reusable materials.

"If it’s reusable, it’s reused - either on the existing project or donated for use on some other. As for recyclables - Concrete and asphalt become gravel, dirt is used for topsoil and fill, yard waste is turned into organic compost, wood is sent to a biomass energy facility, and metal, cardboard, paper, plastic, and glass are recycled into a wide range of new materials. New technologies and domestic uses for discarded building materials are on a rapid rise in the United States. As after-market options increase, costs will continue to fall," predicts Vierra.

All of this careful deconstruction effort can have a significant impact in our fight against global warming while saving building owners money and creating jobs. And saving some tiny reminders of our heritage as a bonus. Read more:

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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