October 6, 2022

Worth it: Building demolition and reuse

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Back in 2016, a charming but outdated 1941 grandma’s house was demolished, opening the way for new, modern buildings. Demolition – while embarrassing my family – was not. an unusual fate

Hundreds of thousands of homes in the United States are demolished each year. and building demolition accounts for more than 90 percent of 600 million tons of construction waste Happens in the country each year — the amount expected to reach the balloon. 2.2 billion tons globally by 2025.

considering my career It won’t surprise you that I found that dropping things That comprises my grandmother’s house – my mother’s childhood home – is not attractive. As an avid repeat user I saw an opportunity for recovery.

After talking to the new homeowner assigned to demolish. I’m glad to learn that tax benefits has inspired to donate various household items. The owner can be amenable to my carpenter brother. And I salvaged more pieces for myself. with hammer and lever A few hours of effort rewarded us with lots of old home accessories, most notably: a dozen beautiful solid oak doors. Although we don’t need these woodworking objects right away. But we all appreciate the same. and retained accordingly for future use.

As a society, we tend to prioritize the new over the old. Ignoring the inherent value of our existing materials. and doing little to reduce the barriers and complexity of reusing those materials.

Earlier this year — nearly seven years after salvage — the perfect project presented itself to renovate an apartment in Portland, Maine built in 1894, finally, an excuse to give a new home to an old door. these! I’m delighted

There is only one problem. Reusing old materials is difficult.

The complexity (and cost) of recalls

After proudly exposing the door to my repossessed house to the contractor. He immediately told me that I was taking the more expensive route. Installing an old door to my apartment frame required a newly built doorframe. This is a carpentry project for skilled craftsmen. Plus, seven years of no temperature-controlled storage, no polite door care. resulting in peeling paint rusty hinges and other deterioration to be renovated

even save material cost More labor bought a new, ready-to-hang door at a much cheaper price and faster. I was crested, as I quickly learned.”Salvage” doesn’t have to equal “savings”.

When it comes to ending a building’s lifespan demolition of structures instead of demolition can Send up to 85 percent less material to landfills. But thanks to the additional labor that can 80% more expensive.

The nationwide patchwork of recycled organizations strives to make the process as streamlined and cost-effective as possible for consumers. But as I just heard that Northeast Recycling Council’s Material Reuse Forum From Karen Jayne, CEO of stardust“It’s a difficult business… building materials [reuse] Often it offers a break-even point.”

Overcome the obstacles of dismantling structures

As a society, we tend to prioritize the new over the old. Ignoring the inherent value of our existing materials. and doing little to reduce the barriers and complexity of reusing those materials. This is all too true when it comes to buildings.

Reusing old materials is difficult.

When considering the embedded carbon of building materials, it accounts for 50% of global building emissions Between now and 2050, prioritizing structural dismantling and recycling is important. What needs to be done to eliminate complexity and promote demolition and reuse? from where i sit There are some things I would like to see more:

  • A more structured-friendly policy might create an enabled environment requiring reuse and red tape removal. Good luck from Baltimore to San Jose and beyond. More and more US cities are embracing demolition policies..
  • More distributed organizations within the restructuring and recycling sectors can expand market offerings with the added bonus of building resilience and economic activity in local communities.
  • Increased awareness and participation Both in the private sector and among consumers and DIYers who are focused on reuse in today’s buildings. It may increase the demand for recycled materials. (If you want to be a savior yourself Here’s a little tip..)
  • More thoughtful design principles in the building sector should prioritize materials designed for reuse and buildings. Designed to be disassembled.
  • Perhaps most importantly, our greater appreciation for the embedded costs, carbon and resources of our materials. will increase their inherent value without realizing it. external environment of “new” purchases, we are enabling more destructive and wasteful systems.

But what happened to the door?

At the end of the day, my internal reuser could not be extinguished and I steamed it with a more expensive but (in my mind) more beautiful door and was repossessed. I tightened my DIY belt and tossed in elbow grease for hours of paint removal and scraping before hiring a carpenter to help with the installation.

It felt important to admit this decision came from a privileged place: where I could pay the extra cost and have the DIY knowledge to handle parts of the project myself. But considering the greenhouse gas emissions embedded in these doors, Not to mention my aversion to cheaper composite materials that have shorter life spans and their own greenhouse gas emissions. The extra time, energy, and budget feel worthwhile.

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