Through in-school apprenticeships, after-school programs, and summer internships, Salomon empowers his students to dream big, work collaboratively, and tackle problems with their own creative designs. Charlotte Nelson (’25) appreciates the freedom and structure. “It’s more like we’re equals. We’re all learning together. We’re trying new things. You want to do something? Go for it.”
Research & Report on: Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Building Materials – by Sara Badiali Prepared for: King County, Washington February 2023
There is an overwhelming amount of information on Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and the related family of chemicals. They are present in air, water, and soil and seemingly permanent in the environment. Historically, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed new PFAS to enter the market through “low volume exemptions resources” after a review process of only 30 days. As a result there are hundreds of companies creating a variety of PFAS-type chemicals, and thousands of products use these chemicals. We now know they cause a terrible toll on human health.
PFAS are present in almost all modern building materials. These are most certainly being spread throughout the environment and to populations through demolition. There is no study confirming the spread of PFAS though building demolition. But there are tangential studies that make it easy to draw this conclusion, including landfill leche, atmospheric modeling, ground water contamination reports, and the presence of PFAS in the building materials themselves.
The following report is a look at what kinds of information is available after searching for over a month. There are three academic papers included that are not linked, they were personally sent to me by the authors and are not public. The footnotes are directly linked to the source for efficiency. Full citations are included under Works Cited in the original report for King County. I have added notes on some citations to opportunities for infographics that are well designed and informative. I did not include them for purposes of brevity, in an already crowded field.
There is professional interest in studies on PFAS chemicals in building demolition from the resources I contacted. There is ample opportunity for King County to partner and provide the first-ever study into PFAS in building demolition. Contact Information is included in this report. The EPA awarded nearly $750,000 in funding to research PFAS exposure pathways in October 2022. Since the subject is so vast, I think the EPA will do another round of funding.
Basic Literature & Key Points
Building Materials are a source of PFAS and their chemical family through manufacturing, function, to end of life treatment. How much, frequency, and longevity of exposure to the public is just starting to be studied. The manufacturing process can be studied through contamination of local communities measuring air quality, ground, and water pollution. Materials like carpets, furniture and coatings are being studied while in use, by measuring the air quality inside buildings. The end of life of buildings are only currently being looked at as studies of landfill leche from C&D solid waste facilities. These studies are often part of larger research tracking ground water contamination. In the month of researching this report, not one study on building demolition worksite PFAS contamination was apparent. In reaching out to experts from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Green Science Policy Institute and others working in studying PFAS in building materials, not one knew of any reports on building demolition sites. Feedback from these contacts is that it is a worthy subject matter to be studied and that they are interested in having information shared with them.
“Breaking It Down” is your indispensable roadmap to ushering in an era of change. In this groundbreaking guide, you’ll delve into the powerful tool of Building Deconstruction, a revolutionary approach to tackling the environmental, economic, and social challenges brought about by the construction and demolition industry. Millions of tons of debris generated annually, poisonous emissions, resource waste, and economic decline—all these issues demand attention and action.
Revenue from deconstruction and reuse has tripled since 2008, to around $1.4 billion last year. The sector now employs some 14,500 people and keeps about 350,000 tons out of landfills annually, said Brad Guy, an architect with Material Reuse, a sustainable architecture consultancy.
Naomi Neilson founded Native Trails in 1996 and for more than 25 years, the sustainable kitchen and bath manufacturer has collaborated with hundreds of highly-skilled artisans in places such as Mexico, California, Vietnam, and Italy. Naomi is one of the few female leaders in the sustainable kitchen and bathroom industry, an industry that is heavily reliant on female consumers. In 2019, the company earned its B Corp Certification, joining a community of leaders helping to drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The company’s Vintner’s Collection is made from reclaimed wine-making materials.
Petrina Rhines with the Birch Group crew. (Photo courtesy of Birch Group)
“We look at the social value as well – we’re creating jobs within the deconstruction and reuse sector,” she adds. So far, Rhines has employed 25 workers from diverse backgrounds, per Birch Group’s website.
Holbein Gardens in London will feature green walls of plants and a car park converted into cycle spaces. Photograph: Antonio Olmos
“Your real estate is one of the easier ways to reduce emissions as a business,” says Bond. “Sustainability is becoming more important to occupiers, investors and employees.”
River stone also features inside the house, along with recycled timbers.
Built from hand-selected Ōtaki river stone, cedar, and huge reclaimed jarrah and Oregon beams and columns, the house on King Arthur Drive is like something out of Camelot.
The focus will be on an emerging materials shortage. It is only a matter of years until we run out of some virgin materials, so the construction industry will have to reuse and reclaim existing resources – the market for reclaimed materials will in turn grow substantially.
Despite its centrality to the Sustainable Development Goals, the embedded toxicity of chemicals in building materials has not received the same attention as that of the embedded energy, water, and greenhouse gas emissions. We draw attention to the concept of “embedded toxicity” to aid in the sound management of building materials, as a needed addition to “embedded carbon”.
Architect Andrew Franz used reclaimed timber extensively in this renovation of a loft apartment in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, transforming a small space into a bright and comfortable home for four.
A growing number of designers, architects, and builders are catching on to the goldmine that is construction waste, and have started recycling wood, plastic, and metal, and upcycling rubble to create entirely new materials for use in home design.
The use of re-used materials in construction has the potential of reducing the embodied carbon of construction and can reduce the demand for virgin materials as well as reducing construction waste. Embodied carbon in the construction phase of a building’s life typically equates to 50%/70% of its total life cycle emissions.
At 90 per cent, the K-Briq offers “the highest recycled content of any brick” currently on the market.
To tackle these problems, brick manufacturers and researchers are increasingly looking at how to make use of local waste materials to create masonry units, as well as reverting to traditional methods of sun-drying to cut out the need for firing.
Wind turbine maker Vestas today announced that it’s figured out how to recycle all wind turbine blades – even ones already sitting in landfills.The Danish company says it has discovered a solution that “renders epoxy-based turbine blades as circular, without the need for changing the design or composition of blade material.”
A dynamic combination of micro presentations and active collaboration to fast-track adoption of salvaged wood into mass timber.
In the ongoing search for building materials with the lowest embodied carbon and highest carbon storage capacity (that can be managed in a circular economy), the use of salvaged wood in finger jointed products/feedstock and mass timber assemblies keeps rising to the surface.
This summit will:
- spotlight recent related innovations
- identify key components and status of each
- explore near-term opportunities for moving the effort forward
- connect partners and build new relationships
- identify next steps
End of life disposal of building materials may also lead
to environmental emissions of PFAS. Large amounts
of waste building materials are disposed of in municipal solid waste and construction and demolition landfills, and leachate from both types of landfills contains
PFAS.255 PFAS-containing building products may also
be sent to municipal solid waste incinerators, which
have the potential to release PFAS emissions into air.
206 College Ave was deconstructed by the Circular Construction Lab. The materials were reused in Felix Heisel’s artwork Circulating Matters.
The Catherine Common’s project is being used as a case study for documenting deconstruction’s local potential. It is particularly useful as it permits a side-by-side comparison of demolition and deconstruction processes on nearly identical buildings within the same economic system. The Circular Construction Lab expects the generated data to provide a “much-needed insight” into the effects of implementing deconstruction and developing a business analysis that could address the scalability of the process.
Beckwith and her team are now planning to 3D print timber in a lab from cells of trees like pine. Once this happens, deforestation would surely become a thing of the past.
A burned residence smolders during the Bear fire, part of the North Lightning Complex fires, in unincorporated Butte County, California on September 09, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
“Though it may seem to laypersons that a postfire landscape is a catastrophe,” they wrote, “numerous studies tell us that even in the patches where fires burn most intensely, the resulting wildlife habitats are among the most biologically diverse in the West.”
But that hasn’t stopped federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management from cutting trees burned in wildfires or selling the logging contracts to private timber companies.
It wouldn’t pay to build instruments and wait two centuries for them to become fully resonant before selling them, though Santa Cruz Guitar Company gains that advantage by beginning with really old wood. This aligns beautifully with the company’s decades long dedication to using reclaimed materials for both superior tone and environmental responsibility.
POSTED BY: HEMPTODAY® DECEMBER 12, 2022
The bombs haven’t stopped Kovalenkov, who has launched “Hemp. Ukraine. Recover.”, a non-profit fund aimed at providing sustainable hemp housing solutions and psychological help for citizens and veterans affected by the war. The initiative’s centerpiece is a 30-unit apartment complex now going up near Morshyn, a small city in the western part of the country, specifically for refugee families and orphans.
Photography: Eric Isaacson of SquareOne Media
Midcentury architect Bruce Goff built a plethora of organic buildings across the Midwest and beyond, combining imaginative forms with found and reclaimed materials, including ribbed Quonset huts, feathers and cullet.
Artwork by Jamie Harper
Harper is a local artist who uses reclaimed materials as his medium of art. All paintings are done with reclaimed latex house paint on salvaged hollow core doors.
Andreas Drenters spent his childhood tinkering in his father’s blacksmith shop. There, he would spend his time making toys for himself and his friends with materials found around the family farm.
Paul Kenyon started distilling gin during lockdown
He admitted that the toilets in St Martin’s Avenue had once been “terrible”, but it was also ideal for his distilling needs because it had drainage, electricity and water. After removing the cubicles, he had it redecorated with reclaimed materials, including tin from a friend’s farm and reused coffee sacks.
Furthermore, the idea of raising the park on its foundations came from the existing wooden piles in the water from old piers. Though disintegrating, these old piles have become an important habitat for marine life and are a protected breeding ground for fish. The designers wanted to mimic this for the Little Island.
A garden boozer made entirely from recycled materials has been crowned Britain’s best Pub Shed Of The Year.
Tri-Lox reclaims timber from water towers that are being retired. Photographer: Arion Doerr/Tri-Lox
Extending the life of existing structures, making them more efficient and reusing materials when properties are torn down offers one of the clearest paths for decarbonizing a sector that single-handedly threatens efforts to keep global warming within the 2C limit set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The Sir John Carling building implodes as it is demolished in Ottawa in 2014. The former government building was completed in 1967 and demolished at a cost of $4.8 million, but the bigger cost might have been the wasted energy invested in the building’s construction. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
Demolishing an existing building, throwing it away in a landfill, is a staggering act of conspicuous consumption. And yet this destructive, extractive approach to Canada’s built heritage has been normalized over generations.
We know you love the carpet. Soon you’ll have a reason to look up, too. (Director: Dawn Jones Redstone)
The interior is made from materials salvaged from demolished offices
Interior construction firm Semba Corporation has renovated the interior of its headquarters in Tokyo to include reclaimed materials discarded during the demolition of other offices.
The ‘Pre-Landfill’ by Karlis Kukainis from Mackintosh School of Architecture
The Judges thought that this “playful project exhibits the art in architecture and shows that there can be fun beyond science”. It does this by testing the limits of reuse practices of reclaimed materials from demolished buildings which will be key to how we tackle the Climate Emergency.
Michel Baars, the founder of New Horizon, considers himself an urban miner, someone who finds a market for discarded infrastructure.Credit…Max Pinckers for The New York Times
Michel Baars thought he could do better than turn it into material for a road. Mr. Baars considers himself an urban miner, someone who extracts raw materials from discarded infrastructure and finds a market for them.
Scott Edouard Martinet worked in Paris for years as a graphic artist before turning to sculpture. His latest works use scrap metal mainly recovered from old cars, bikes and mopeds to create anatomically perfect animals.
A female engineer inspects construction site. Image via Shutterstock/Phont
The smartest infrastructure is a group effort, bringing together the collective knowledge and expertise of everyone involved: from developers, to development finance institutions, to private investors, project managers, suppliers, policymakers and impacted communities. This also means that if we want to build infrastructure that is both gender-smart and climate-smart, we need education, coordination and synchronization to make sure that everyone involved is fully on board with the benefits.
The city of San Antonio will implement a deconstruction ordinance aimed at reducing total demolitions of older, small housing and increasing deconstruction and repurposing certain building materials. (Courtesy city of San Antonio)
That focus will expand in January 2023 to single-family and multifamily housing built no later than Dec. 31, 1945. A third and final phase of ordinance implementation, beginning Jan. 1, 2025, will affect housing built no later than Dec. 31, 1960.
Rondo’s “brick toaster” heat storage system is 98% efficient, and stores cheap renewable energy for industrial use at 20% the cost of an electrochemical battery. Rondo Energy
These stoves are full of plain ol’ bricks, made out of plain ol’ clay, sometimes with a bit of sand in there, but certainly nothing special in terms of materials. Nothing toxic, nothing that decays over time. These bricks will still be storing heat just as well in 40 or 50 years’ time, when chemical batteries have gone through several generations of complex recycling.
Earlier this year, crews removed roofing, flooring and walls in a project that’s part of a Cornell University study comparing deconstruction and demolition. @ FitchyImages | stock.adobe.com
However, Felix Heisel, director of the Circular Construction Lab at Cornell, Ithaca, New York, told WSKG deconstruction can be cheaper than demolition when accounting for landfill diversion, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and fewer natural resources extracted since more materials are reused in deconstruction than in demolition.
Reclaimed wooden walkways and shared outdoor spaces make up a lot of the reclaimed Kha-Nam Noi House.
Thai architecture firm YangNar Studio recently completed “Kha-Nam Noi house” in the central province of Sing-Buri, Thailand, using an existing elongated pigsty as a shell for a series of comfortable living spaces made almost entirely with reclaimed materials.
One good way to include vintage pieces is by using reclaimed materials like wood beams or antique backsplash tile.” — Emma Beryl Kemper, Ember Beryl Interiors
Fast-forward to 2022 and it’s snowballed into an initiative where BARC goes into “homes otherwise set for demolition,” salvages as much lumber, pipe, wire, and other building components as possible, and then uses those reclaimed materials to build brand-new tiny houses throughout the Grand Traverse region.
Artist Bordalo II was in El Paso working on installing a large-scale mural on the One San Jacinto building in Downtown El Paso. This large mountain lion is part of a Big Trash Animals series of murals that he’s been installing all over the world using reclaimed materials.
Source: Artist Bordalo II
MARK HENNINGER / IMAGIC DIGITAL
Baltimore has been successfully running a similar program since 2016, and Philly officials have visited. In addition to milling old trees, Baltimore’s program also salvages wood waste from building deconstruction.
Two gummy bears made from the composite resin that could be used to make wind turbine blades. Photograph: Reuters/John Dorgan
Once the blades have reached the end of their lifespan the materials can be broken down and recycled to make new products including turbine blades – and chewy sweets.
The Good Store “radically rethinks the department store”, with an emphasis on reuse and refurbishment. A range of plastic-free and sustainably sourced products are on offer, with the space also set to host informative educational events and services to guide consumers through eco-conscious choices.
Integrated sidetables were added to the lounge chairs
“People who sit in the chairs and touch the surfaces can ‘read’ the story of the furniture and understand where the materials came from. This connection to place and the playful character of the furniture is a powerful antidote to the usual impersonal, sterile environment of a hospital.”
Arthur Pululo busy with a unique piece.
Elizma Swanepoel’s unique furniture made from recycled wood and materials such as old-fashioned pressed ceilings has become sought-after collector’s pieces that will be a focal point in any home.
Re-New NZ Sustainable market organiser Julie Cronin restoring a desk in her workshop garage in Havelock North. Photo / Warren Buckland
Cronin had decided she needed to do something to shape her own and her family’s future, so she started the Havelock North business to take everyday goods that would usually end up in landfill and give them a new lease of life.
The largest converter of reclaimed rubber in North America is coming to Alabama. (Encore International)
Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this company uses reclaimed materials to make flooring and surface products. Ecore International is the largest converter of reclaimed rubber in the continent, mostly using recycled truck tires.
Mel and Jez Wright are selling the custom home they created at 29 Highlander St, Torquay.
“I ended up ferrying 100 or so bricks in the back of a van and we’ve incorporated them into the walls of what we funnily call the rave cave,” she said.“It’s a space that we’ve created off the living area to house our music collection. And it’s got some thick sliding barn doors that Jez constructed from the wood that he’s collected over the years.