Recycling your Building

An Olivieri Brothers White Paper, Fall 2015

 

By:  Alex Hothan, Licensed Architect

 

 

For many of us, we feel like we are doing your part by regularly recycling paper and aluminum cans, and each week taking our box of recycling to the curb or drop off center.  However, consider the amount of materials that went into the construction of your home or building.  According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, an estimated 8,000 lbs of waste is created from the construction of a 2,000 square foot home.  A separate study also concludes that construction and demolition waste accounts for roughly 40% of all landfill waste in the United States.  Recycling and waste reduction is a main category of compliance for the US Green Building Council “LEED” program, which measures a building by its environmental impact. Many news media outlets, publications, and even municipalities have focused on the recycling of construction materials and the material resulting from building demolition.

 

Ready for the good news?  Some material sectors have been doing their part. Metal by-products and waste materials have been recycled for a long time in the construction industry due to the high cost of mining and collecting new metals.  It is industry standard now that almost all of new metal building materials are being made from recycled metals.  Following the path of the metals industry, numerous other building material companies have developed recycling methods to not only help the environment, but to provide a responsible disposal solution for the common home or building owner.

 

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Tyvek Company, maker of waterproof building envelope wraps and barriers, takes used wraps from buildings and then can mechanically recycle them into new products such as waterproof mailing envelopes.

 

http://www2.dupont.com/Tyvek/en_US/sales_support/recycling.html

 

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Armstrong Company offers a program to pickup used ceiling tile squares.  In the factory they grind up the old tiles and form them into new.

 

http://www.armstrong.com/commceilingsna/ceiling-recycling-program.html

 

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Sika Sarnafil is a flat roof material company that will take used roofing, break it down into grindings, and reshape into new flat roofing.

 

http://usa.sarnafil.sika.com/en/group/roofing-sustainability/what-is-sustainable-roofing/pvc-roof-recycling.html

 

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For an excellent tool for finding services who will take un-needed building materials, try the Building Waste Database:

 

http://www.wbdg.org/tools/cwm.php

 

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Recycling is a vital component of protecting our available resources by allowing manufacturers to reuse discarded materials. Not only does this phenomenon positively affect the manufacturers and supplier, but it also benefits home and building owners. Talk to your architect and/or contractor about how you can use recycled products in your next project, or how you can recycle portions of your current building when it comes time to remodel.

 

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