What is Deconstruction?
Deconstruction involves removing of materials from buildings with care for the purpose of saving them for reuse. Materials saved from deconstruction projects are salvaged to enable reentry into the marketplace as-is or for remilling into new products such as flooring. We believe deconstruction differs from demolition in that its primary goal is to capture the embodied energy of the materials within buildings and placing them back into use. We place a higher value on reuse over sending materials to the landfill, for recycling, or chipping yards for use in energy co-generation plants. After items are placed for reuse, we prioritize recycling whenever a project condition (location, budget) requires, and landfill only what cannot be recycled locally.
What is reuse?
(In relation to deconstruction) Reuse is the process of salvaging a material and then reusing it in order to preserve its embodied energy. Reuse of materials comes in various forms: repair, upcycling, remilling lumber to be made into flooring and other architectural products, and reuse as-is sold at various retail and wholesale outlets. Most materials require a bit of processing such as repair, denailing, cleaning and sterilizing to put them back into working order. Some materials, such as concrete and asphalt, require crushing in order to be reused onsite as, for example, road base.
What materials can be reused?
If you can think of a use for it, it can be reused! Building materials that typically get reused include: lumber, cabinets, doors, windows, and bath & light fixtures. As new green building codes are passed, some items are no longer reusable as-is for their original use - right now toilets and faucets must meet current standards in order to be reinstalled. But they can be reused in other creative ways!
What materials are landfilled or recycled?
Most materials these days can be reused or recycled depending upon location and with the right facilities for recycling available. Materials that are co-mingled during demolition do get sorted if they aren't too badly mixed and if taken to a sorting facility. Many demolition contractors haul materials to a landfill with no sorting line - the only recycling that happens is on-site - used as base for the roads at the landfill! In the bay area commonly recycled materials include metals, some plastics, and clean wood. We do have new facilities that accept asphalt shingles and sheetrock Items, but you must specifically request those options as access to the facilities is not always feasible based on location. Items that typically are landfilled are tar paper, painted and treated wood, fiberglass, plaster, linoleum, vinyl, pressboard and formica.