Deconstructing Buildings Instead of Demolishing Them Saves Money, Saves the Environment and Creates Local Jobs

Waste incinerator in Powell River series - #5

Deconstruction is the process of carefully dismantling a building in order to salvage components for reuse, as opposed to demolition, where buildings are smashed with wrecking balls and bulldozed, leaving components in bits and pieces.

Having spent 30 years working with a group of great people from the Roberts Creek area building and renovating homes around there and down in California i and the homeowner friends we worked with and for can testify that deconstructing and reusing materials along with buying used building materials is the key to cost effective construction. Demolishing, destroying and dumping the valuable materials that already have embedded within them all the energy it took to produce and ship them then to go buy new materials that themselves must be harvested, manufactured and shipped [and profited on at each step] is not only a waste of money, it's dumb.

There are so many social and environmental benefits to deconstruction it's hard to list them all. The first reason after the overall cost is jobs, local jobs and money spent locally benefits local businesses and manufacturing. That money stays in the community where it's re-spent again and again. Next would be all the crap that's kept out of the waste stream, out of the landfills, out of the damn incinerators [the basic topic of these recent posts] and the tax money involved. Next would be quality. The lumber in an old house is so superior to what's being produced today there is no comparison, just ask any carpenter.

There are no more first growth trees to produce doors and windows out of and the crap being harvested today twists and checks in no time at all. Consequently these old high quality materials have been replaced by plastics and other unnatural crap that doesn't expand and contract or resist the elements the way natural products harvested in the environment they are used do. Homes in the rain-forest should be made out of the wood growing in that type of forest, those in the desert should be made of sand and cement, etc.

We need to rethink what we’re throwing into our landfills. There are many useful online resources full of information about deconstruction. The article 'Building Jobs By Tearing Down Houses the Green Way' is a great place to start. It centers on Vancouver's aims to boost a new employment by recycling buildings. The BC Deconstruction website also has many resources. Metro Vancouver is a leader in Canada's evolving waste management and recycling efforts. They have a number of very good ideas and initiatives connected to their Zero Waste Challenge, Buildsmart Sustainable Buildings and Green Spaces programs.