Buildings have a significant impact on the environment. In the U.S., buildings represent more than 50 percent of the nation's wealth. New construction and renovation account for approximately $800 billion or approximately 13 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and employ over 10 million people. The construction industry uses 40% of all extracted materials. Thirty percent of all energy used is a result of the construction industry and the built environment.
By reducing waste generation, deconstruction also reduces climate gas emissions, and abates the need for new landfills and incinerators. Perhaps most importantly, it helps to steer the C&D industry away from traditional consumption and disposal patterns and towards sustainability and reuse. Reducing the industry's consumption of virgin materials helps preserve natural resources and protect the environment from the air, ground, and water pollution related to extraction, processing, and disposal of raw materials.
Each year the United States buries about 33 million tons of wood related construction and demolition debris in our landfills. As anaerobic microorganisms decompose this wood, it will release about 5 million tons of carbon equivalent in the form of methane gas.
This is equivalent to the yearly emissions of 3,736,000 passenger cars.
Producing new building materials from recycled, rather than virgin, materials consumes less energy. Consuming less energy means burning fewer fossil fuels, which in turn means producing fewer green house gases.
Every ton of wood that is reused avoids the creation of 60 pounds of green house gases that would have been created to harvest and mill new lumber.
The Environmental Protection Agency On Building Deconstruction
Building deconstruction is a "grave-to-cradle" program that helps take care of the enormous stock of buildings reaching the end of their useful lives while simultaneously reducing the pressure to mine or harvest natural resources for new construction, reducing the need for landfill space, and creating new jobs.
Construction activities consume 60% of the total raw materials used in the U. S. economy.
Estimates that 136 million tons of building-related C&D waste is generated annually, of which 92% is from renovation and demolition work.
Only 20% to 30% of C&D waste is being recycled.