Turn on any home channel and you can hear about green building and energy efficient appliances, but something we don’t often hear about is what happens to all the trash and scraps that are left over when construction is complete. Did you know that an average of 8,000 lbs. of waste go into landfills during the construction of a 2,000 square foot home? That’s four tons of waste! Construction waste recycling isn’t exactly glamorous, and you won’t hear about it on popular home shows, but it’s a real way you can minimize your footprint and potentially give your business a leg up. Here are some things to think about if you’re considering ways to build greener.
Waste Costs Money
If you’ve ever had to shell out cash for hauling off waste from a big build you know construction waste is expensive. From renting dumpsters to paying disposal fees, the stuff you have left over can add up to a substantial chunk of your earnings. This is something many builders and contractors don’t think about, or consider to be an inevitable expense. But why? Whether it be money you save on labor or money you spend on waste, $100 is $100. The fact is you do have control over your building expenses, even your trash. By changing your practices to increasing efficiency and looking for ways to eliminate landfill materials, you can minimize expenses in an area you probably haven’t thought much about.
Measure Twice, Pay Once
Imagine going to a restaurant and having to pay the waiter to take away the food you didn’t eat. In construction this is often times what happens. You are essentially paying twice for the supplies you throw away. This may seem elementary, but the first step in eliminating waste is ensuring you only order what you need. You can often tell a good builder from not-so-good by the amount of excess that’s left over. A good builder will take careful measurements and know his product. This increases efficiency, and in any business efficiency means money. This also may mean keeping a closer eye on what your subcontractors are tossing. If your guys are inefficient someone is losing money. By tightening up on your supply efficiency, you can be sure you’re not bleeding money and filling landfills with unnecessary junk.
Reuse and Recycle
Another way you can cut down on waste is to find new uses for scrap supplies. This is where creativity pays off. Consider grinding down bricks and cement for base rock or using left over wood material for other projects. It might take some extra time or consideration, but establishing sensible reuse practices is a great way to cut down on your dump fees.
If you can’t reuse all your waste (which you most likely can’t) consider recycling what you can. Depending on your location, there are all sorts of companies and organizations that will recycle things like PVC pipe, scrap metals, and even paint. Handing materials over to people who know how to handle them will mean they are taken care of safely and not leeching in the ground somewhere.
Set Your Business Apart
So why does rethinking construction waste make sense? We’ve talked about how it can keep you from paying twice for your trash, but thoughtful waste practices can be a great selling point for your business as well. This is an aspect of green building that hasn’t fully been tapped into. While other builders are only thinking about energy efficient appliances, truly environmentally conscious builders will be examining their impact on the whole.
This could be a great tool for positioning your business as environmentally friendly, and in a competitive market that could mean the job. Consider adding to your pitch that you reuse and recycle as much waste as possible. You can even compare the average waste produced during a build compared with the amount you produce. Thinking about construction waste as a competitive advantage is a great way to offset the additional time and consideration it takes to reduce your waste.
As the green trend continues to grow and expand I expect construction waste to become a greater and greater concern to builders and their clients. Not only that, but as landfills around the world are filling up, the cost of dumping will only increase as time goes on. Taking on the subject of construction waste now is a proactive way to get ahead of the game and set yourself apart from builders who are unwilling to adapt. Plus, at the end of the day you can feel that much better about your environmental impact.
This article created by Amanda Hill who is a content manager for CIS for contractors and builders. Check out Amanda’s DIY projects at CIS’s Resource Center or follow her @amandablogspvc. CIS provides quality pipe, fittings, valves and support accessories for industrial, commercial and residential use.