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Green Basics

Jobsite Recycling

Recycling Building Materials Saves Money and Helps the Environment

Photo credit: Asa Christiana
ABOUT RECYCLING Reduce waste, conserve resources Construction in the U.S. produces millions of tons of waste every year. Disposing of it conventionally, which means trucking it to landfills or incinerators, is costly to builders and, ultimately, costly to the environment. Recycling construction debris is one way of lowering building costs, extending the life of landfills, and funneling some raw materials back into the production stream. Recycling also has enormous potential for saving energy. It takes much less energy to make new products out of recycled material than it does making them from scratch. Recycling one ton of aluminum, for example, saves the energy equivalent of 36 barrels of oil. Nationally, about 30% of all municipal solid waste is recycled, saving roughly 1.5 quads of energy per year, or 1.5% of the nation’s total energy consumption. Although recycling has become a core principle of green building, in practice it poses challenges even for builders who are interested. For a variety of reasons, recycling channels for some types of clean scrap can be hard to find. For demolition debris, it gets even tougher. As a result, lots of construction debris is still taken to landfills or incinerators. Types of debris Major categories of construction debris include cardboard and paper, PVC and other plastics, asphalt roofing shingles, gypsum drywall, metal, and wood. Some of it is fairly easy to recycle. There’s a long recycling history for cardboard, metal and some plastics, for example. Other materials are more difficult to recycle because the material has limited value, or because there aren’t many processors capable of handling it. Opportunities vary by state Some states have very active recycling programs for construction debris while others do not. In addition, regulations on the disposal of construction waste vary from state to state. Massachusetts, for example, bans the…

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  • Green Basics

    Video: Jobsite Recycling

    Green Job Sites Have Less Waste And More Recycling Grinding leftover wood, drywall, and cement can be done right on the job site with a multi-use portable grinding machine. The wood chips and ruble can be used as erosion control (wood chips), soil amendment (ground dry wall), and road base (cement, asphalt shingles, and drywall).

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    Green Remodeling Guide

    Green Remodeling Is Different from Building New, but the Goals Are the SameIn fact, remodeling an existing house is inherently greener than building a new one.#Americans spend roughly $200 billion a year remodeling their homes. The scope of these projects varies from simply repainting a kitchen to gutting a house down to the studs. What all remodels have in common is that they are upgrading rather than replacing, rebuilding rather than building new. And from an energy resources point of view, remodeling a house, rather than building a brand new one with all new materials on a previously undeveloped site, is a green thing to do.What makes a remodel green? In a nutshell, it means seeking the same objectives with a remodel as we would in new construction: energy efficiency, resource conservation, and a healthy indoor environment. You get there the same way as new construction: planning and design. Begin with a home energy audit to see where the biggest greening opportunities are, and then look for ways to roll improvements into the scope of future remodeling plans.REMODELING PROJECTS:#Kitchen | Addition | Bathroom | Energy Retrofit | Basement | Gut Rehab | Home Office | Decks/Porches | Weatherization Four steps to green remodeling

  • Green Basics

    Job Sites

    Green Job Sites Have Less Waste And More Recycling UPDATED 8/16/2011


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