PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

Construction Waste Management

Approximately 80 percent of a homebuilder's waste is recyclable. Homebuilders can conserve natural resources and landfill space by regarding their waste as resources rather than refuse. Another way builders can reduce waste is deconstruction, the process of manually disassembling buildings to maximize the salvage of building materials. Deconstruction includes the recovery of structural timbers, wood framing and sheathing, and bricks. It is an alternative to traditional demolition that relies less on wrecking balls and bulldozers than on low-skilled laborers. Although deconstruction is labor-intensive, and takes longer to clear a site than does traditional demolition, the trade-offs are a greater number of labor hours (job creation), opportunity for entrepreneurship (business development), a yield of useful materials instead of waste (economic savings and resource conservation), and less landfill burden (environmental protection).

There are also waste-reduction building techniques, such as Optimum Value Engineering (OVE), a framing techniques that reduces the amount of lumber used to build a home while maintaining the structural integrity of the building. Using OVE techniques results in lower material and labor costs and improved energy performance for the building.


Planner's Network On-Line Newsletter
Organization of progressive professionals and activists concerned with urban planning and social justice.

Building Deconstruction and Material Reuse in Washington, D.C.
EPA publication that describes deconstruction activities in Washington, D.C., identifying some of the issues that may promote or impede the growth or sustainability of deconstruction.

A Guide to Deconstruction: An Overview of Deconstruction With a Focus on Community Development Opportunities February 2000
Describes techniques for deconstruction, the process of selective dismantling or removal of materials from buildings before or instead of demolition.

A Report on the Feasibility of Deconstruction January 2001
Deconstruction is the process of selective dismantling or removal of materials from buildings before or instead of demolition. Based on a study of four urban communities, this report details how communities can potentially use deconstruction to support and complement other community objectives.


King County, WA, Construction Recycling
King County provides the tools and assistance needed to help you to obtain the highest recycling rates possible on your construction/deconstruction projects. Tools available include jobsite waste guidelines, a waste management plan template, sample waste recycling specifications, directory of local construction waste recyclers and more.

Construction Materials Recycling Association
Information exchange on issues and technology facing the industry including a listing of available literature on relevant topics.

Residential Construction Waste: From Disposal to Management
Shows four reasons why builders might begin managing waste disposal.

Massechusetts Department of Environmental Protection This website offers a wealth of resources that can help builders and planners set up a successful construction waste management program for construction and demolition debris.

Encourages development that better serves the economic, environmental, and social needs of communities.

Smarth Growth PDF Download Index
Publications available for download from the EPA's SmarthGrowth Web site.

Used Building Materials Association
Nonprofit that represents companies and organizations involved in the acquisition and/or redistribution of used building materials.

Content updated on 5/25/2007

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