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Deconstruction & Reuse
What Delta is Doing
Where Do You Want to GO Next?
It has been said that our old-growth forests still stand – not in our forests, but in our buildings. Much of the wood in existing residential and commercial structures is reusable, as are many other building materials and components. Deconstruction turns waste into an economic asset by diverting as much as 24 million tons of demolition debris from landfills each year, conserving natural resources and reducing pollution and carbon emissions.
Deconstruction and reuse helps reduce waste, increase energy efficiency and incorporate green purchasing and is a Green Building strategy and recognized component of LEED certification. Deconstruction has been identified as an economic development opportunity for hard-to-employ workers and disadvantaged communities, as a typical project can employ 5-6 workers for 3-4 weeks, as opposed to a typical residential demolition that employs 1-2 workers for 1-2 days.
Building deconstruction and material reuse is being recognized as a promising Green Economy growth sector that delivers significant environmental, economic and social benefits. Among the challenges are the creation of policies and incentives to promote deconstruction, such as integrating it into permitting and building codes and retooling waste management policies.
The federal government has provided significant funding through the 2009 Stimulus to train contractors and laborers in proper deconstruction techniques. Deconstruction has found a ready audience within the green design community, which is incorporating reclaimed materials into unique design and construction projects. Even do-it-yourselfers and low-income homeowners are taking advantage of the opportunity to buy and install reclaimed building materials into their building and remodeling projects since it allows them to conserve cash, the environment, and precious natural resources.
The ultimate challenge is changing the way people perceive the built environment, to see assets instead of dilapidated ruins destined for the landfill. With a shift in perception, people will see deconstruction as an opportunity to maximize value whether on materials, the quality of human experience, or the kind of jobs the sector brings to neighborhoods.
What Delta Is Doing
The Delta Institute has been a pioneer in the deconstruction and reuse movement through a variety of initiatives, including:
• Managing the ReBuilding Exchange, Chicago's first building material reuse center, which is located on Chicago’s southwest side. The ReBuilding Exchange is a social venture that turns economic and environmental liabilities into assets and provides affordable building materials to low-income communities and DIYers throughout the area. It also creates jobs, trains hard-to-employ workers and diverts waste from our landfills. Since early 2009, the ReBuilding Exchange has diverted more than 1,600 tons of reclaimed building materials from landfills, created 70 job-training opportunities in an emerging green business sector, leveraged more than $4.2 million in local investment on deconstruction activity, and created eight new green-collar jobs.
• Leading the national dialogue on industry best practices and communicating the need for a coordinated national strategy and standardized curriculum for worker training.
• Working to replicate the successful ReBuilding Exchange model in communities throughout the Great Lakes region and to scale the initiative to result in more regional impact.
• Educating architects, contractors, developers, homeowners, the general public and other audiences about the benefits, opportunities, and best practices of deconstruction, building awareness of possible new uses for reclaimed materials and creating demand for workers trained in deconstruction.
• Promoting deconstruction and reuse as an opportunity to redirect waste from landfills with the concurrent benefits of conserving resources, both natural and man-made, and reducing pollution and carbon emissions.
Where Do You Want to GO Next?
• ReBuilding Exchange
• Brownfield Redevelopment
• Green Economy and Green Jobs
• Deconstruction Resources & Tools
• Download a fact sheet about Delta's Deconstruction & Reuse Services
To explore additional green opportunities, visit our Green Economy Navigator.