Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City
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The economic benefits of deconstruction are substantial. One of the biggest challenges to "greening" businesses is overcoming the false perception that environmentally-sound business practices necessarily will increase costs and decrease profits. Building deconstruction is helping break that myth.
Old buildings on Long Island are an untapped valuable resource. When a building is no longer fit for use and has to come down, does this happen just as all of its parts and components wear out? Most old buildings have some systems and materials with useful lives. The trick is efficiently identifying the materials and getting them out of the building. When redeveloping a Long Island property, it is difficult to see the old buildings as anything but obstacles. Also, it is important to consider whether their contents and/or components may actually be resources that have net value.
You can get a tax deduction. The reusable waste from your project could be worth a significant tax write-off. You can donate your salvaged building materials to numerous not-for-profit organizations on Long Island and receive a tax-deductible receipt to help offset the higher labor costs that building deconstruction requires (versus demolition). Advanced Restoration Corp. provides all of our clients with a detailed photo-documented inventory of salvaged materials for tax purposes.
Building deconstruction reduces overall project costs. Buildings can be deconstructed more cheaply than they can be demolished. Building deconstruction reduces the cost of waste disposal. For every ton of material diverted from a landfill, there is one less ton of disposal costs. To the extent deconstructed materials can be incorporated into a new building or space on the same site, the savings are two-fold-reduced disposal costs and new material costs.
Tags: economic benefits, green, green building, advanced restoration corporation, building deconstruction, building deconstruction long island, economic benefits of building deconstruction, green construction, build green, sustainable practices, c & d waste, tax donation
When buildings reach the end of their useful life, they are typically demolished and hauled to landfills. Building implosions or ‘wrecking-ball' style demolitions are relatively inexpensive and offer a quick method of clearing sites for new structures. On the other hand, these methods create substantial amounts of waste.
The demolition and renovation of buildings in the U.S. produces 124,670,000 tons of debris each year, according to the Deconstruction Institute. That's an awful lot when you consider that just one 2,000-square-foot wood-frame home has the potential to yield 6,000-board-feet of reusable lumber or about 85 percent of the wood framing. That house, demolished and sent to a landfill, amounts to about 127 tons of trashed materials or about 10,000 cubic feet of debris. This is equivalent to 33 mature trees, or the yearly output of 10 acres of planted pine (7 football fields). Wood frame houses are good examples, since 95 percent of all houses are built that way.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 270,000 residential units are demolished in the U.S annually. Much of that demolition debris goes into landfills. In this country, according the EPA, building debris (in total, not just from residential units) accounts for one-third of all solid waste, and an estimated 91 percent of that comes from renovation and demolition. We can estimate that for every 3 square feet of deconstruction, enough lumber can be salvaged to build 1 square foot of new construction. At this rate, if deconstruction replaced residential demolition, the US could generate enough recovered wood to construct 120,000 new affordable homes each year.
Some states, including California and Massachusetts, are enacting bans, taking steps to divert up to 60% of the construction waste from landfills. In Chicago, the city has ordinances which require almost half of the construction debris be diverted from landfills. Thanks to some forward-thinking insurance companies who now offer a "green" policy, coverage for recycling and deconstruction costs are now a reality on some insurance policies.
Construction & Debris (C & D) Waste Facts
In 1978, there were approximately 20,000 landfills. By 1988, that number had dropped to 5,499. Currently the figure stands at 3,091. The EPA estimates that as of the 2008, only 1,234 landfills were available.
Only 3 active landfills on Long Island as of 2009.
All landfills will eventually fail and leak leachate into ground and surface water. Plastics are not inert. State-of-the-art plastic (HDPE) landfill liners (1/10 inch or 100 mils thick) and plastic pipes allow chemicals and gases to pass through their membranes, become brittle, swell, and breakdown.
"...82% of surveyed landfill cells had leaks while 41% had a leak area of more than 1 square feet," according to Leak Location Services, Inc. (LLSI) website (March 15, 2000).
All landfills could require remediation, but particularly landfills built in the last 60 years will require a thorough clean-up due to the disposal of highly toxic chemicals manufactured and sold since the 1940's.
The U.S. generated 143.5 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris in 2008, but only 28% (40.2 million tons) was reused, recycled or sent to waste-to-energy facilities.
Consider that 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).
How much do your building projects impact these numbers? Consider the following:
- The average new construction project yields 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot of building area. Example: A 50,000-square-foot building = 97.5 tons of waste.
- The average building demolition yields 155 pounds of waste per square foot. Example:A 50,000-square-foot building = 3,875 tons of waste.
According to the National Association of Home Builders, a typical 2,200 sq.ft. home requires 13,000 board feet of framing lumber. If laid end to end, that framing lumber would stretch 2.5 miles.
If all the dimensional lumber used to build the 1.2 million new homes constructed in the United State each year were laid end to end, it would extend 3 million miles, the equivalent of going to the moon and back six and a half times.
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What Is Building Deconstruction?
Building deconstruction is the systematic dismantlement of building materials and building components, specifically for re-use, recycling, and waste management. It differs from demolition where a site is cleared of its building materials by the most expedient means and a majority of the demolished materials are hauled to a landfill for disposal.
Building deconstruction is also referred to as "construction in reverse" or "Last On, First Off (LOFO) Construction". Deconstruction is new by name, but not by practice, as the recovery and reuse of materials in order to build new structures is as old as buildings themselves. Reuse of materials might be considered one of the "original" green building techniques, along with the use of local materials.
In the pre-industrial era, building material conservation was driven by the high intensity of the labor effort required to harvest and prepare them. Reuse of materials provided an economic advantage. In the mid-to-late 20th century, the emergence of machine-made and mass-produced materials, chemically complicated materials, and the relatively low cost of oil allowed this basic idea of "waste not, want not" to fall from usage in the creation of built environment.
Buildings, like everything, have a life-cycle. Deconstruction focuses on giving the building materials within a building a new life once the building as a whole can no longer continue.
Building materials and components within old buildings may still be valuable, sometimes more valuable than at the time the building was constructed. Deconstruction is a method of harvesting what is commonly considered "waste" and reclaiming it into useful building material. In the process, Advanced Restoration Corp. seeks to recycle or reclaim for re-use a majority of the structure, save the property owner expensive debris hauling and disposal costs, and enable the donors to earn a significant tax deduction for their donations.
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A Force for the Sustainable Development and Future of Long Island.
Green Drinks Babylon is a monthly gathering of like-minded individuals committed to shaping our future and making Long Island a greener community. Come out and charge your eco-spirit and make some new connections.
Our 1st meeting is on Oct 14th, 2009 @ Horace & Sylvia's Publick House in Babylon, NY.
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We have a lively mixture of people from NGOs, academia, government and business. Come along and you'll be made welcome. Just say, "are you green?" and we will look after you and introduce you to whoever is there. It's a great way of catching up with people you know and also for making new contacts. Everyone invites someone else along, so there’s always a different crowd, making Green Drinks an organic, self-organising network.
These events are very simple and unstructured, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, done deals and had moments of serendipity. It's a force for the good and future of Long Island.
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