Residential demolition activities produce an estimated 70 - 115 pounds per
square foot. The disposal costs for these projects reflect these higher waste
levels when compared to new construction. Although, some materials can be salvaged
or recycled using a phased approach, (recycling concrete during foundation removal),
many demolition waste materials are commingled making separation difficult and
costly. One method of increasing waste salvage, or reuse, and lowering disposal
costs is called deconstruction.
Deconstruction is a process of building disassembly and material salvage. This
process is not new but has increased in popularity due to the benefits that
it offers a range of audiences. Deconstruction means taking apart portions of
a building and removing some or all of the contents for recovery. Materials
such as equipment and appliances, metals, electrical fixtures, wood timbers
and flooring, architectural features such as moldings, doors and knobs, masonry,
and more may be salvaged from a residential building. Depending on the nature
and condition of the materials, deconstruction may be a small part of the demolition
process or may take the place of demolition activities.
Some Benefits of Deconstruction
- Avoid replacement costs or create income from salvaged materials
- Avoid landfill consumption
- Avoid disposal costs
- Use of smaller equipment in sites that may have limited access and
- Job training and economic development for communities
- Reduce energy required to manufacture and produce new materials and
- Reduce site impacts such as dust, soil compaction and loss of ground
The workforce training and economic benefits of deconstruction drive
a strong interest by leaders in many communities to explore opportunities
and include specifications for deconstruction, especially in public housing
programs. These efforts in turn are helping to strengthen market development
for salvaged materials. A contractor may also find opportunities to join
with these leaders to obtain funding and low-cost laborers.
With careful planning, deconstruction projects can be cost competitive
and have shown valuable returns. (See case studies in resources listed
below). The work is labor intensive. Many tools are the same as those
in a contractor's toolbox and new tools are being developed, such as a
pneumatic nail extractor, to reduce the labor involved. Even on a tight
construction schedule, deconstruction can work.
A deconstruction project of any scale requires careful consideration. Pre-planning
- a thorough building assessment by a qualified professional with a solid
understanding of residential construction, hazardous material identification,
and salvage markets,
- analysis of existing markets for used building materials, (Visit the Materials
Exchange portion of this Guide)
- assess and prepare for sufficient storage space and adequate protection
- obtain permits and clarify requirements of local officials,
- contract language with clear procedures and intended end-uses, and
- training of on-site workers.
The safety of workers and other material handlers are a number one priority.
Schedule for removal and isolation of hazardous materials prior to full-scale
deconstruction activities to reduce potential exposure.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, A Guide To Deconstruction,
U.S. Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program, Greening Federal
Facilities, Chapter 7.4, http://www.eren.doe.gov/femp/techassist/green_fed_facilities.html
California Integrated Waste Management Board, Job Site Source Separation,
- A Guide To Deconstruction
- Subtitled as 'An Overview of deconstruction with a focus on Community Development
Opportunities complete with deconstruction project profiles and case studies',
this guide actually provides something for everyone. Gain details on the benefits
and the types of deconstruction, important tips on assessing buildings, a
discussion of labor strategies, and tips for managing salvaged materials.
National Association of Home Builders Research Center for U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development, 2000.
- - http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/decon.pdf
(slow to load - but worth it)
- Building Disassembly
and Material Salvage: The Riverdale Case Study - In an effort to address
building industry and property owner questions, deconstruction of a 2000 square
foot, 4 unit, residential building in urban Baltimore County, Maryland was
performed, documented and analyzed in comparison to demolition. The report
discusses industry issues, (environmental, regulatory, worker, and logistical),
project results (labor studies, quantities of materials managed, and cost
analysis), and recommendations for future projects. National Association
of Home Builders Research Center for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
- - http://www.smartgrowth.org/pdf/deconstruction.pdf
- 'Deconstruction: Back to the Future for Buildings?' - This six page article
examines the place of deconstruction by looking at building design, materials
management and costs. A checklist is provided "as guidance for maximizing
deconstruction's potential". Environmental Building News, Volume
9, Number 5, May 2000, p 1, by Peter Yost.
- Strategies for
Waste Reduction of Construction and Demolition Debris from Buildings -
A factsheet aimed toward local government., building owners, developers, and
contractors. It provides an overview of case studies with a summary of what
was learned: strategies, cost benefits and Q and A. U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, 2000.
- - http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/buildingdebris.pdf
Logistics Lead to an Environmental Solution - Case study of one residential
deconstruction on Mercer Island, Washington. A difficult access, lower deconstruction
bid, and pre-sell approach for architecturally significant features turned
a potential demolition into a deconstruction project saving approximately
$9,000 in final costs. King County Solid Waste Division, 1998.
- - http://dnr.metrokc.gov/swd/bizprog/sus_build/erthwise.pdf
at Work: Deconstruction Building #28 at Stowe Village - Case study of
six public housing units in Hartford, Connecticut. This factsheet provides
a brief summary of the project results and quantitative community benefits.
Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 1998.
- - http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/decon/deconatwork.html
Building a Deconstruction Company: A Training Manual for Facilitators and Entrepreneurs
- A report for anyone interested in starting a deconstruction company. It provides
details from setup and funding, to planning, deconstruction, and material resale.
Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), 2001. Order from: ILSR firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone (202) 232-4108.
- The Used
Building Materials Association is a non-profit, membership organization
based in Nova Scotia. It represents companies and organizations involved in
the acquisition and/or redistribution of used building materials. UBMA provides
publications and a well-known annual conference to its' members.
- - http://bcn.boulder.co.us/environment/ubma/index.html,
telephone 1-877-221-UBMA (8262).
- The Construction Materials Recycling
Association is devoted exclusively to the needs of the rapidly expanding
North American construction waste & demolition debris processing and recycling
industry, this organization provides information and campaigns to increase
the acceptance of used materials. CMRA also publishes a bi-monthly newsletter
with news, commodity prices, and in-depth reporting for the C&D industry
called the Construction Materials Recycler
- - http://www.cdrecycling.org/,
- The National Association
of Demolition Contractors was formed to foster goodwill and the exchange
of ideas with the public, governmental agencies, and contractors engaged in
the demolition industry. The NADC guides members and sponsors educational
programs to increase public understanding of all phases of the demolition
- - http://www.demolitionassociation.com/,
(Fact Sheet 3 of 10)