Posted in education on March 17, 2015 10:35 am EDT

Trending Green: Save Waste, Save Cash

How do you help your clients honor creation care in the midst of a building project? Church Designer's eye-opening compilation of stats are designed to prompt positive action.

The EPA estimates that building debris accounts for one-third of all solid waste, and an estimated 91% of that comes from renovation and demolition.


 

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TAGS: business, education, energy efficiency, environmental, green, sustainability,

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By Andrew Robinson

One year’s debris is enough to build a wall about 30 feet high and 30 feet thick around the entire coast of the continental United States (4,993 miles).

A burden that all building designers bear, from architects to engineers, is bringing their ideas into the reality of a physical structure without harming the environment. Perhaps this burden is even greater for those constructing houses of worship, since virtually all faiths ascribe to a belief in caring for creation. Like most environmental issues, it’s not a single action that makes a trend, but consistent and perpetual practices of disregard that get us in a heap of trouble. With building construction, this is evident in the United States’ steadily progressing epidemic of waste. Let’s let the facts paint the picture:

• “Imagine taking the world's largest cruise ship and dumping it into a landfill 700 times a year. That's how much trash new building construction and demolition produces in the United States alone – approximately 170 million tons of sometimes toxic trash.”

• One year’s debris is enough to build a wall about 30 feet high and 30 feet thick around the entire coast of the continental United States (4,993 miles).

• The EPA estimates building debris accounts for one-third of all solid waste, and an estimated 91% of that comes from renovation and demolition.

• It is estimated that building construction, renovation, use, and demolition together constitute about two-thirds of all non-industrial solid waste generation in the United States.

• Buildings account for 40% of materials used and 30% of total waste, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

So what can we do to alleviate waste when building?

Clearly, there is tremendous room for progress in building construction. This is particularly true when highlighting that of the millions of tons of building-related construction and demolition debris the United States generated in 2008, only 28% was reused, recycled, or sent to waste-to-energy facilities. So what can we do to alleviate waste when building? Some tips:

• Before even looking to order materials, contact local salvagers. Be creative in repurposing materials for your building. For inspiration, look at the newly opened Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Va. From using champagne corks as drawer knobs, to salvaging the maple flooring in an elementary school gym, there are opportunities everywhere to repurpose materials.

• After scrounging to find salvageable materials, be very intentional in the design process, ordering the right amount of materials to minimize waste.

• When selecting the materials for your building, strive to pick earth-friendly materials that are easily recyclable.

• Once you have all the materials, contact your local builders association, county solid waste department, or state environmental agency and ask for information on recyclers and waste haulers in your area.

• While there can be an additional cost for recycling construction debris, some of this cost can be alleviated by working with non-profit organizations that specialize in construction waste recycling.  continued >>

 

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