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Seeing Green: Demolition for the future

Matt Luman November 9, 2017 0

Green Environment

Opportunities in the demolition sector are gradually expanding with the growing construction and building environment. Careful planning and safety training are crucial to the success of green demolition by preventing issues concerning environmental and health safety. Green demolition is the future, time to jump on board.

What is green demolition and why it matters

Green demolition refers to the process of dismantling buildings for recycling or reusing its elements, thereby maximizing the environmental, economic, and social benefits. This process can recycle a possible eighty percent of the elements which would have initially landed in the environment’s water and soil or have been disposed of in landfills.

By demolishing urban structures in a relatively small area, you risk compacting the soil making it less absorbent to water runoff while also containing a lesser percentage of organic materials, oxygen, and water. Research shows that compacted soils are less sustainable as their drainage and organic characteristics are significantly damaged. The green demolition initiative process is aimed at creating significant environmental benefits while also transforming the communities into sustainable habitats for the members. Green demolition practices which all workers and contractors should be aware of to enhance your techniques and goals include deconstruction and reuse, recycling and site reuse.

Implementation

During pre-demolition planning, you should consider deconstruction and reuse. A typical demolition safety training exercise should include salvaging and recycling at varying levels. Deconstruction describes a type of selective demolition. You should selectively dismantle structures with consideration to the economic benefits that will accrue from the structure debris. By selective dismantling, you prevent the long-term stagnation of buildings in sites that they do not serve healthy functions to the community. You can salvage materials with architectural value for reuse purposes from deconstructing residential buildings. This avails the usable building materials to the community while also preventing them from going into landfills.

Items that can be salvaged during deconstruction include:

  • Doors, cabinetry, and hardware
  • Bricks, rocks, and countertops
  • Toilets, bathtubs, and sinks
  • Wood flooring, windows, appliances, and more

By a careful identification process of the materials, you ensure safe and economically sound reuse.

Standard operating procedures should be established in material recycling. Safety training in construction includes learning the right way of handling and disposing materials salvaged from a deconstructed site. In the process of deconstruction, you mine for the non-hazardous raw materials that can be recycled for new building projects.

Materials include metals, brick, wood, block, concrete and others that are recoverable in demolition locations. Such materials are reused or recycled in new projects which saves energy and natural resources from the process of producing new materials. Recycling also reduces the environmental and economic costs that are associated with disposal. If hazardous materials such as lead or mercury are present, you should take an prudent approach towards removing them from the sites for safe disposal.

The Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, or HAZWOPER, can be taken to train and protect workers when working in hazardous sites. This reduces the risk of exposure to the workers and environment.

After the demolition process, you should ensure the site is usable for the specified plans expected in the future. You can use the vacant sites after demolition to construct community gardens or green infrastructure. This prevents wastage of the site and extends its usefulness by providing economic and environmental benefits while leaving the site in a more aesthetically pleasing state.

Sometimes it will be impossible to remove some materials for reuse or recycling. Due to this, you should ensure that the demolition plan contains specifications for the removal of such debris. The plan should highlight technical features that are involved in the demolition process that will expedite local stabilization approaches through proper site preparation facilitating its reuse. This can potentially assist to transform the vacant site into amenities or other opportunities adding value for the community at large.

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