With the sizable amount of waste that stems from construction, it’s no wonder people have been curious how to reduce consumption. What I didn’t realize is that there are pretty drastic measures happening to repurpose materials instead of filling additional landfills. Even before the materials need to be discarded, architects and designers are experimenting with ways to reduce materials required in the conceptual stage.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has jump started an effort to reinforce the importance of these shifts. Big goals such as a 50 percent reduction in fossil fuel consumption by 2030 are a push behind the idea of construction waste management (CWM). The CWM concept is just one of many steps that the AIA proposes as a means to reach their goal of carbon emission reduction, however it is an instrumental one. Aside from more direct ways to practicing ecologically-responsible construction and CWM, builders have been experimenting with re-use of materials and methods assuring less waste. This is not only an interesting idea as far as construction innovation goes, but this movement has the potential to drastically reduce construction’s environmental footprint worldwide.
What is Construction Waste Management?
As the AIA puts it, CWM can be summed up as “the practice of minimizing and diverting construction waste, demolition debris, and land-clearing debris from disposal and redirecting recyclable resources back into the construction process.” Basically, the practice of CWM involves a company putting together a plan (or less formally taking action) to (1) reduce energy consumption associated with any practice performed by the company (2) be wiser about even non-energy-related releases of carbon (such as breaking down stones, etc.), and (3) be mindful to cut down chemical emissions from landfills or any other source.
One idea, building with modular components, is showing that recycling materials doesn’t have to produce a substandard result. These buildings can appear just as sleek and polished as a facility with all new materials. Plus, construction directors can free up large components of their budgets with the cost savings associated with modular construction. In fact, a recent Construction Informer blog points out that on average there is 15% less construction waste through modular. Taking this a step further, saving 24 million tons of waste (the annual approximation saved with modular) is about equal to 8 massive landfill sites. With all these areas considered, modular construction has the potential to save consumers and companies alike close to $442 million each year.
Not all organizations are able to embrace modular construction, however there are tons of best practices offered by the AIA that can be pieced into even the most unwavering organization’s construction process. With the hundreds of millions tons of waste being added in the construction waste stream annually, any step can go a long way.
Image courtesy of: http://recyclingworksma.com/