Green Building

Construction and demolition waste accounts for a significant portion of the waste stream. Most construction materials are recyclable or reusable. Wood, metals, dry wall, cardboard, wiring are among the construction/demolition materials that are generated in this practice. Universities are a good place to implement waste reduction strategies in new construction, remodels and in demolition projects.

At the University of Oregon, the UO Zero Waste Program has made an effort to reduce the impact of C/D through:

  • Encouraging waste reduction/recycling in all campus contracts on construction/demolition
  • Working with contractors after the bid process, to provide consultation on managing the project waste stream
  • Working with the new Campus Sustainable Development Guidelines process to encourage waste reduction and recycling practices in all campus projects

A world Famous
Brick Collector

For years, this was a monumental challenge as contractors thought that recycling would cost them more money. As more contractors become educated on green building, more contracts contain green building language and specs and the appearance of a Materials Recovery Facility in Lane County, C/D waste reduction has become more commonplace. In Lane County, a new MRF was started in 1996 that strictly deals with commercial (a large portion are from construction projects) drop boxes. Materials are sorted and processed for recycling, while the price of these drop boxes remains equal to landfilling. Contractors can also request drop boxes just for wood waste for example, and those boxes are less expensive for the contractors. Material recovery from the MRF ranges from 27-40% in Lane County.

C/D waste recovery is one part of the puzzle. Along with green building specs, policies, rebates, etc...keeping these materials out of the landfill will become the rule and not the exception. The good news is that contractors are seeing the benefits and the pieces are beginning to fit. This is an exciting area for recycling to blossom, one that is growing daily.

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