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Deconstruction and Reuse

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Throughout North America, hundreds of used building material stores sell materials for construction and renovation projects. Materials (such as used lumber and bricks) and other items (such as doors and windows) are salvaged mostly from remodeling projects, pre-demolition salvage, and the growing practice of deconstruction—the selective disassembly of buildings to reuse and recycle parts.

Deconstruction: Building Disassembly and Material Salvage (PDF) (2 pp, 1.1MB) Exit EPA
Produced by the National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) Research Center, this brochure provides an overview of the economic and environmental benefits of deconstruction.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has produced two reports on deconstruction:

EPA Region 9 C&D Waste Reduction and Recycling series fact sheets that focus on deconstruction:

Photo of man working at deconstruction site

Building Materials Reuse Calculator Exit EPA is intended for businesses, agencies, organizations and individuals interested in measuring the impact of reusing building materials on the environment. Developed by New York Wa$teMatch, this downloadable calculator measures the environmental benefits of reusing building materials in terms of ten avoided negative environmental impacts (global warming, acidification, eutrophication, fossil fuel depletion, water intake, criteria air pollutants, ecological toxicity, human health, ozone depletion, smog).

Habitat for Humanity ReStores Exit EPA accepts donations of new and used building materials and fixtures in 100 percent working condition and resells them at bargain prices.

The Building Deconstruction Consortium (BDC) Exit EPA is a group of building professionals dedicated to maximizing the reuse of building materials. EPA is working with the Army’s Construction Engineering Research Lab, the USDA Forest Products Lab, the University of Florida’s Center for Construction and Environment, and Habitat for Humanity to demonstrate, document, and disseminate best practices for the “deconstruction”—disassembly for reuse and recycling of the pieces—of Army buildings.

The Deconstruction Institute Exit EPA provides educational materials, tools and techniques, networking, case studies, and articles about the environmental impacts of deconstruction.

The Institute for Local Self-reliance (ILSR) Exit EPA has a Building Deconstruction Exit EPA web page including publications and information on its deconstruction projects.

The Reuse Development Organization (ReDO) Exit EPA is a nonprofit organization promoting reuse of numerous materials, including building products.

The Smart Growth Network is a coalition of organizations, including EPA, that promote sustainable community development. Among the many topics covered on this website are C&D materials management and other aspects of the environmental impact of buildings includingdeconstruction.

Building Material Reuse Association Exit EPA is a nonprofit, membership-based association that represents companies and organizations involved in the acquisition and/or redistribution of used building materials.

The Powell Center for Construction and the Environment Exit EPA of the University of Florida is conducting several projects on deconstruction.

The US Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Lab (CERL) has produced two publication on C&D materials management:

Deconstruction – Building Disassembly and Material Salvage: The Riverdale Case Study (PDF) (61 pp, 285K)
Prepared by the National Association of Home Builder’s Research Center (NAHB RC) in June 1997, this document presents the key results from a case study of a 2,000 square foot, 4-unit, residential building in an urban area in Baltimore County, Maryland. The study address some of the issues involved in a comparison between deconstruction and straight demolition and proposes some recommendations for the deconstruction industry.

International and National Materials Exchanges direct users to markets for buying and selling reusable and recyclable commodities.

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