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Too much building waste

Construction, maintenance and renovation of buildings account for around 40 per cent of the world's material flows, so it's always sad to see an old building reduced to a pile of rubble

We know our resources are finite, so to continue to demolish buildings is not particularly smart when all those materials end up in a hole in the ground.

While the Ministry for the Environment says that at least 26 per cent of the waste in our landfills is from buildings, the Organisation for Resource Efficiency in the Building and Related Industries says that up to half of all landfill waste is from construction and demolition. This both uses up landfill space and contributes to pollution.

To counter this problem, disassembly is becoming more common, with various building-waste exchange systems already active.

The practice has many environmental and social benefits but often much of the salvaged material is unusable, damaged by techniques used during construction.

This is why some designers are aiming to construct buildings with disassembly in mind.

They're adopting the "cradle to cradle" philosophy, where the whole lifecycle, or more aptly, series of lifecycles, is considered in the design phase.

Designers incorporate planning for future renovations and eventual disassembly, which cuts down on waste and prolongs the life of the building.

An example of such a design is the Design-for-Disassembly House in Atlanta in the US. This house, made from standard building materials and conventional building methods, is constructed in a way that will make it easy eventually to take it apart and reuse it.

To encourage such thinking here, the Green Building Council has a green star rating system which rewards developers for using resources as efficiently as possible and includes rating categories in materials and energy.

Showing 1 Comment

Posted by Ingo Ratsdorf on 03/11/2015 03:02 PM

DfD and its challenges
Hence the avoidance of "horrible hybrids" is important. Do not use any material that is sandwiched or somehow permanently joined together. Example: Steel reinforced concrete is okay, you can crush it and separate the steel and concrete, fibre reinforced concrete is bad, you cannot separate is. Timber can be deconstructed and nails or screws removed, avoid glues. Our ancestors used timber dowels for centuries, which worked great. Some engineers use steel dowels nowadays. Clay gives a great plaster, I used it extensively in DE, no idea why there's no supplier here in NZ with most of Auckland sitting on pure clay.... Heat bonded timber fibres give great insulation panels, again no idea why no one is manufacturing it with so many trees in NZ. The DfD idea is pretty old and yet I am suprised that it tool 17 architects and ESD experts to come of with that design. The report itself originates from 2006 and as we know the states are a bit behind ESD compared to Europe. Problem with the DfD design is that it is more expensive. Material use is higher, structure needs to be stronger with basically only exterior walls supporting your floors and being capable of carrying varying loads of flexible partitions. That design has been advanced in the meantime with REALLY moving walls, giving you the option to completely change your home within minutes. I can't find the link anymore unfortunately. But is was based on the same principles with the addition of moveable partitions. Again drawback: COST. Regards, Ingo

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