Demolition is all about speed, safety and maximizing the use of equipment to level a structure and remove the debris from the site as cost efficiently as possible – recycling scrap metal, wood, or concrete is often a secondary consideration and much is dumped in landfills.
Conversely, deconstruction or hand-dismantling involves the slower, meticulous process of tearing down a building to maximize material recovery for recycling or reuse. With new home construction and the remodeling business in the dumps, dismantling and the sales of recovered building materials is holding its own, even prospering in many areas of the country.
Gary Delp, the owner of Heritage Timber in Missoula, Montana, has been dismantling buildings for 15 years and has removed buildings as large as 50,000 sq. ft. Delp said, “Over last year we’ve had a 10 to 15 percent increase in our business.”
Brian Alferman, a board member of the Building Materials Reuse Association, and the associate director of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Kansas City, said, “We are in a very low period of deconstruction right now. In fact, we have only deconstructed one house this year – last year and the year before we were doing about 25 a year. This economy and the housing market specifically have taken a toll on our deconstruction opportunities.” ...read more
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Perhaps this slow economy has been the catalyst that has sparked a growing interest in reclaimed materials. It seems as though all the public education in green building practices has engendered a waste not, want not mind-set where reclaiming materials is not just about cost savings, but is also source of pride in conserving natural resources.
A broad understanding has been arrived at by industry – that a great deal of value is going unclaimed. With a little common sense and cooperation, reclaimed materials can be better managed and more easily classified as commodities and approved for reuse. An increased emphasis on reclaimed construction and demolition (C&D) materials could create new jobs and new revenue for contractors, recyclers, processors and retailers. Other benefits include conserving landfill space, lowering disposal costs, reducing the environmental impact of producing new materials and helping to lower construction expenses by negating purchases.
Due to the drop in new construction, the demolition and dismantling industries certainly need a monetary shot in the arm and even modest conservation of virgin materials is a net plus for everyone. It also appears that the government and business climates are ripe for change. Proactive green-building and urban redevelopment projects are popping up all over the country, the latter a potentially rich source of reclaimed materials as well as job creation. ...read more