As companies continue to expand, they quickly outgrow their current buildings. When faced with this problem, many companies choose to have their old building demolished and build a brand new structure. Currently, demolition companies are racing to find methods that make their destruction greener.
Eco-friendly demolition, also known as deconstruction, allows developers to conserve resources and minimize the environmental impact of their building projects. Every year, millions of tons of construction debris are dropped in landfills, resulting in growing harm caused to the environment.
To deal with the construction waste problem, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) developed a set of eco-friendly guidelines that can lead to an LEED Certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Certification is an independent verification process that ensures a building project meets the highest green building standards and performance measures.
Strategies to attain LEED Certification need to be planned from the beginning of a demolition project. Once the dumpsters, trucks and workman are on site, it is too late to consider ways to make the process greener. It also means cooperation across all aspects of the project. Everyone from engineers and landscapers to architects and contractors need to be part of the planning process in order for the building to gain full LEED Certification. Each state has different rules about how materials need to be separated and disposed of, but to gain LEED Certification at least 75 percent of the existing walls, roofs or floors need to be retained during reconstruction or significant renovations. If 95 percent or more of the existing structure is saved, the building will earn more credit.
The certification process requires more work and more man hours, since it means they must do more than take a wrecking ball to a building. But it can also lower several key project expenses at the same time. Reducing the amount of waste going to the dump means lower landfill charges. Often, green buildings will qualify for various tax credits, rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives. It also provides healthier and safer workspaces for crews, and demonstrates an owner’s commitment to the environment.
There are several eligibility restrictions on buildings trying to attain LEED Certification. All commercial buildings can potentially qualify for new construction, renovations made to existing buildings or changes made to commercial interiors. Buildings that fall under the heading of "commercial" include offices, retail space, institutional buildings – such as schools, libraries or museums – hotels and residential buildings with four or more floors of occupied space.
Residential home renovation projects can also apply greener demolition practices. Home owners should to try to salvage as much of their current building materials as possible. Owners should look for people who deal in architectural salvage first. These people buy and sell vintage objects in a home, which can include windows, doors, lighting, columns, mantles, hardware or bathroom fixtures. Boards in a home can be planed, routed and reused as floors, ceilings or wainscoting. Plastic pipes can be made into watering aids for newly-planted trees and carpeting can easily turn into mulch or an addition to your soil building system.
You will find that your plans for greener demolition – be it in your home or at a work place – turn out to be cheaper than traditional methods and you will feel a sense of pride that you did your part to make the Earth a better place to live.