We built our environment.

Construction Site

We can (un)build it better.

Credit: Felix Heisel, Circular Construction Lab

The Costs of Demolition

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sustainable Management of Construction and Demolition Materials, 2018

UN Environment and the International Energy Agency, World Green Building Council Global Status Report, 2017

PlaceEconomics, Treasure in the walls: Reclaiming value through material reuse in San Antonio, 2021

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Not sure what some of these terms mean?
Check out our glossary to better understand terms like deconstruction, embodied carbon, and construction and demolition debris.

The Benefits of Deconstruction

Environmental

  • Reduces the waste sent to landfills

  • Conserves the natural resources needed to make new construction materials

  • Lowers emissions by decreasing the energy use in the construction sectors

  • Retains embodied carbon and water in the built environment

  • Improves worker health and safety by reducing injuries associated with mechanical demolition

  • Improves public health and safety by reducing airborne toxic pollutants and heavy metal soil leaching

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Credit: Jenni Minner, Just Places Lab

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Credit: Joseph McGranahan, Circular Construction Lab

Economic

  • Creates green jobs for the deconstruction, processing, and resale of materials

  • Contributes to emerging circular economy 

  • Keeps scarce materials, like old growth wood, in economy

  • Offers tax deductions from material donation

  • Reduces expenses associated with landfill disposal fees

  • Lowers public and private sector costs of maintaining landfills

  • Helps augment supply of quality building materials and offsets costs of new materials  

Social and Cultural

  • Honors the history and craftsmanship of materials

  • Develops trade skills that are being lost generationally

  • Helps preserve historic architectural styles in neighborhoods

  • Improves future building material design and manufacturing practices

  • Preserves a sense of place and community in existing neighborhoods

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Credit: Finger Lakes ReUse