Salvaged Building Materials Create Sustainability, Jobs

Salvaged Building Materials Create Sustainability, Jobs

ENS) – Salvaged building materials can have an economical -- and environmentally friendly -- alternative use as studs, trusses and other basic construction components, a new University of Florida study shows.

Wood removed from older buildings could provide as much as a quarter of the lumber supply for the housing construction industry for the next 50 years, while putting a hefty dent in the amount of demolition waste that goes into landfills each year, the study found.

"You're not filling up landfill space, you're not threatening the groundwater, you're protecting the forests and making more effective use of resources," said Charles Kibert, director of the Rinker School of Building Construction.

Lucy Acquaye, a graduate student in building construction who did the research for her master's thesis, said that in Florida, the construction industry constitutes 23 percent of all municipal solid waste, and of that, 92 percent comes from the renovation and demolition of old structures. Meanwhile, landfill space is being lost to new development.

Acquaye studied wood from three houses in Gainesville. Built between 1900 and 1950 of Southern pine, the houses were taken apart using different techniques, from total demolition to careful deconstruction, where the focus was on salvaging as much usable material as possible. She said the contractor made a profit on the deconstructed house because he was able to sell much of the building's materials.

"Instead of demolishing houses, there is the potential for creating many new businesses. You have to take the building apart, extract the materials, resell them, move them from point A to point B and maybe even do some remanufacturing and clean up," Kibert said.

"We think it could generate a lot of new economic activity, and you'd have 10 times as many jobs compared to simply landfilling construction waste."

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