Taking It All Apart

July/August 2003
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2003 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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July 01, 2003
Why demolish when used building materials can get recycled or resold?
        Traditional construction and demolition projects add to the landfills that dot our landscapes and, a drop at a time, oceans of waste are being created. An estimated 51.6 million tons of waste were generated by residential demolition and renovations in 1996, according to the EPA, and all construction waste amounted to 136 million tons. Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center estimated that this waste comprised 10%-30% of the total amount of refuse generated in the United States that year.Over the last decade or so, as awareness of this blight has grown, so have companies and programs designed to rethink our throw-itall- away economy.Though some have found unique solutions to the question of how we can continue to build and renovate without contributing to the growing landfill problem, many are arriving at the same answer, at least for renovation projects—deconstruction.         “Deconstruction is the systematic disassembly of usually light-framed structures in the strict reverse order of construction,” says Jim Primdahl of the Deconstruction Management Group, in Portland,Oregon. He couches the issue in terms of thermodynamics, discussing the need to extend the embodied energy of building ...

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