Going Green with Deconstruction




Deconstruction - The Green Side of Demolition
By: The Working Man

Is your idea of demolition a huge crane and wrecking ball, or a
dynamite blast that turns a standing building into a pile of
rubble fit only for the landfill? If so, you are probably a
little "behind the times."

There is an increasingly popular variation on traditional
demolition that is usually called "deconstruction." The name
deconstruction is used because the process tries to reverse the
construction process, saving as much of the original materials as
possible for resale and/or reuse. Of course, some demolition
contractors have always tried to resell and recycle materials,
but now, in the day of "green," the concept is being heavily
researched, promoted, and accepted.

In traditional demolition, sometimes parts such as windows,
doors, cabinets and appliances are removed and resold, but often
the brick, structural timbers and wood flooring are simply broken
into manageable pieces and disposed of. But that process wastes
useful materials and promotes the ongoing problem of dwindling
landfill space.

In the United States the Environmental Protection Agency and the
National Association of Home Builders (NAHB-RC) have done
extensive testing at a pilot site to clarify the usefulness of
this demolition method. The research is ongoing, but initial
results show that it can be very profitable to salvage things
like oak strip flooring, wood framing and sheathing, wooden doors
and shelving, galvanized pipe, wiring, metal ducting and the

The estimate is that if such material are kept at the site and
reused in new building they equal a one hundred percent savings
on that type of materials. Even if the rescued materials are sold
at salvage, they will still likely yield half the value of
equivalent new materials.

Plus, believe it or not, deconstruction is usually cheaper to do
even before the income from the sale of rescued materials.
Although labor costs for deconstruction are higher since much
more careful work is required, deconstruction rarely requires
large heavy equipment so rental costs of the needed small hand
tools and machinery is much lower.

Costs for the deconstruction alone may be thirty to fifty percent
lower than traditional demolition, and the profit from reuse or
reselling of the recycled materials, plus the reduced costs of
waste disposal (up to seventy-five percent less waste), add that
much more to the savings.

Aside from the cost and environmental impact savings,
deconstruction can be done using a less-skilled pool of workers,
so providing valuable jobs to the local workforce and encouraging
local small business. In short, deconstruction appears, so far,
to be nothing but win-win for the construction and demolition

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