Design constructionwaste1

Published on January 8th, 2009 | by Joel Bittle

21

Home Construction’s Dirty Secret: 8,000 lbs of Waste Per 2,000 Square Foot House


How carelessness on the job site leads to overflowing landfills, with tips on how to reduce construction waste

If you feel like you are doing your part for the environment by taking your box of recycling to the curb, consider how much went to waste in the construction of your house.  According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, an estimated 8,000 lbs of waste is created from the construction of a 2,000 square foot home.  The majority of the 8,000 is wood, cardboard, and drywall.  Almost all of that waste ends up in landfills.  More than one green builder I’ve met first looked into green building after growing increasingly disgusted at the tons of debris carried away on a construction site.  Much of the debris was either unnecessary material or material that could be salvaged or recycled.  The problem can be solved by streamlining the material coming into the construction site and better managing how the waste is separated and where it ends up.

A focus on waste reduction comes with three major benefits:

  1. A focus on waste reduction brings down the price of construction:  Too often builders overestimate their need of a material and order an excess to make sure they have enough.   This occurs most often with wood and drywall.  With a little bit of pre-planning, the builder can order what he or she needs and save money in the process.  Some manufacturers have a buyback option for unused material.
  2. Waste reduction provides material for future projects:  Many construction materials can be reused or recycled.  See a list below for construction materials that can find their way to new projects.
  3. It greatly reduces the amount of waste going into landfills:  The EPA has estimated that waste from construction accounts for up to 40% of the nation’s solid waste.

Input

Plan for waste reduction from the beginning, ordering only the materials needed.

Consider materials for more than one use.

Work with suppliers to limit packaging.  If you need multiples of a material that comes individually packaged, try to arrange special packaging.

Seek out suppliers that have a buy-back policy.

Keep to standard measurements as much as possible.

The more “finished” a material is before its delivered, the better.  Finishing something on-site creates waste.

Identify local recycling and salvage centers as well as organizations like Habitat for Humanity, who will take reusable material.  These companies may provide “wood only” or “metal only” dumpsters for recycling.

Communicate to your workforce the new focus on waste reduction.  One specific is to keep all scrap pieces of material in case a small piece is needed later in the project.

Output

If you are tearing down an existing house, consider a construction site give-away section where neighbors can take away old appliances or fixtures.

Freecycle!

Use a wood chipper to turn branches and trees into mulch.

The following materials can be recycled or salvaged:

  • asphalt pavement
  • gravel and aggregate products
  • concrete
  • masonry scrap and rubble
  • metals
  • clean wood
  • plastics
  • insulation materials
  • un-tempered glass
  • door and window assemblies
  • carpet and carpet pad
  • ceiling tiles
  • plumbing fixtures and equipment
  • lighting fixtures and electrical components
  • cardboard
  • appliances
  • brush and trees

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity will accept:

  • many of the materials listed above if in good condition
  • unused building material including sheets of drywall
  • lumber
  • cabinets
  • clean rugs
  • paint
  • furniture

Remember that materials that have been contaminated with toxic chemicals or wood with lead based paint should be disposed of properly.

For an excellent analysis of waste management, try the Whole Building Design Guide.

Picture Credit:  stock.xchng




MAKE SOLAR WORK FOR YOU!





Next, use your Solar Report to get the best quote!

Tags: , , ,


About the Author



  • Allison

    Another issue that causes waste in the building industry: change orders. A collaborative relationship among all teams involved in the construction process, along with improved communication, documentation and contract management, will cut down on the waste caused by the need tear down and rebuild on construction projects.

  • Allison

    Another issue that causes waste in the building industry: change orders. A collaborative relationship among all teams involved in the construction process, along with improved communication, documentation and contract management, will cut down on the waste caused by the need tear down and rebuild on construction projects.

  • http://stlhomeboy.blogspot.com Joel Bittle

    Thanks, Allison. Great point.

  • http://stlhomeboy.blogspot.com Joel Bittle

    Thanks, Allison. Great point.

  • http://thegreendecoder.blogspot.com The Green Decoder

    While the need for waste reduction is crucial, I am not sure there is too much new information here. For years, builders have been publishing statistics showing the effect of one extra sheet of plywood on the job site, stacked end-to-end would reach the moon. The key to this is to continue to be vigilant in your efforts to reduce and build more efficient structures. Then, hire a great waste management company that will recycle as much of the waste as possible.

    Builders that are recycling should post signs everywhere to that effect to prevent a big contributor to jobsite waste: homeowner waste disposal. A dumpster in the neighborhood is a free close by dumping ground. Of course, consumers are less like to dump if they know it is being recycled. It will still happen, but I have seen the couches left in front of the dumpster, instead of tossed in, with the recycling sign.

  • http://thegreendecoder.blogspot.com The Green Decoder

    While the need for waste reduction is crucial, I am not sure there is too much new information here. For years, builders have been publishing statistics showing the effect of one extra sheet of plywood on the job site, stacked end-to-end would reach the moon. The key to this is to continue to be vigilant in your efforts to reduce and build more efficient structures. Then, hire a great waste management company that will recycle as much of the waste as possible.

    Builders that are recycling should post signs everywhere to that effect to prevent a big contributor to jobsite waste: homeowner waste disposal. A dumpster in the neighborhood is a free close by dumping ground. Of course, consumers are less like to dump if they know it is being recycled. It will still happen, but I have seen the couches left in front of the dumpster, instead of tossed in, with the recycling sign.

  • http://www.impbins.com John

    A very interesting article. The time has come now for more people to take up re-cycling as much more could be done. Legislation will be the future driver as always in these circumstances. The company I work for have recently added a reange of recycling bins to their portfolio.The range consists of four bins consisting of 1 bin per category: Plastic / Glass / Cans and Paper. The bins can be bought from http://www.impbins.com

  • http://www.impbins.com John

    A very interesting article. The time has come now for more people to take up re-cycling as much more could be done. Legislation will be the future driver as always in these circumstances. The company I work for have recently added a reange of recycling bins to their portfolio.The range consists of four bins consisting of 1 bin per category: Plastic / Glass / Cans and Paper. The bins can be bought from http://www.impbins.com

  • Pingback: Build a Cabin With Less Construction Waste | Form & Forest()

  • Pingback: Construction Waste Reduction | EcoSilly()

  • http://reachingforlucidity.net/live/ berlin

    Gut!

  • http://reachingforlucidity.net/live/ berlin

    Gut!

  • Pingback: Recycling Could Solve Pesky Polypropylene Carpet Problem()

  • Pingback: The Rewards of Reducing Job Site Waste | BuildIntel()

  • http://www.olympiahomesny.com/sullivan_county_home_builders.php Sullivan County NY Home Builders

    Revealing post. Thank you for giving reference to how up to 8,000lbs of wood-based products are wasted for every 2,000 square foot home construction.

  • http://www.phoenixpavingaz.com/ Asphalt Paving

    why is it called dirty constructions? anyway i haven’t read the whole article yet..i’ll just post a comment after..Thanks

  • Luis Alex11

    Other issue that causes drain in the business business: vary orders. A collaborative relationship among all teams implicated in the construction transmute, along with reinforced connexion, documentation and promise management, faculty cut fallen on the dissipation caused by the require buck trailing and build on artifact projects.
    ______________________________________________
    luis

  • George

    The enormous waste generated in constructing a dwelling points to the residential design process, whose practitioners appear truly unencumbered by the engineering process.

  • http://onetorontoplumbing.com SmartPlumber

    Truly significant insight here. One other word of advice we present to an awful
    lot of our own potential consumers happens to be; lower your shower by 7 minutes everyday will certainly conserve a large amount
    of money over the year. Decent web site, I will without any doubt be lurking regularly.

  • Pingback: Energy Efficient Framing: Building Green Homes With Wood()

  • Bill Ding

    So what is the correct amount of waste? Building materials come in set dimensions. Architects come with one mind set; ooh, I’m a design genius. Design geniuses don’t draw pictures of houses that correlate to available material dimensions, hence trucks full of waste.
    I used to build storage sheds for extra income. They would be 8 feet x 12 feet to match available materials. An architect would make them 8′ 3″ x 12′ 5″.

Back to Top ↑