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”.
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.
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.
Australia has to come up with an end-of-life plan for used wind turbines, says a leading academic. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
“It is not realistic to expect a market-based recycling solution to emerge, so policymakers need to step in now and plan what we’re going to do with all these blades that will come offline in the next few years.”
The project would allow unlimited mechanized cutting and removal of live and dead trees of any age up to 2 feet in diameter and an undisclosed number of trees up to 5 feet in diameter, as well as the destruction of chaparral across 755 acres.
We met up with John J. Bauters, Mayor of Emeryville, CA to learn more about his experience as arguably one of the most bike-friendly mayors in the U.S. In this rider story, John takes us on a tour of Emeryville, talks about his upbringing, and how others can inspire change no matter what city they live in.
The roof of ZGF’s new terminal for Portland International Airport will be constructed from locally sourced cross-laminated timber. Credit: Port of Portland
“Acting at scale is so eminently possible,” Lindsay Baker told me. She is the CEO of the International Living Futures Institute (IFLI), which runs the Living Building Challenge, an extraordinarily rigorous certification program that has pushed the building industry to achieve energy use reductions deemed all but impossible a few years ago.
A structure printed with concrete and a 3D printer by manufacturer Alquist. Courtesy: Alquist
To mitigate the logistical challenges, the City of John Day applied for and won a grant from the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. Now Walker and the City of John Day have $60,000 to develop plans for a practical 3D-printed home.
Logs are stacked high in this aerial view of Viking Lumber’s sawmill in Klawock, Alaska. SEAKdrones LLC
Land exchanges have allowed lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to bypass the Roadless Rule and other environmental protections and transfer ownership of thousands of acres of old-growth Tongass National Forest, opening the land up for logging.
COURTESY CAROLINE PERRON PHOTOGRAPHIES — Three years in the making, the patented machine cleans 99 per cent of a brick through a process involving a concrete grinder that allows the cleaning of the brick extremities.
Chifa says Maçonnerie Gratton calculates the brick recycling machine can eliminate up to 5.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the restoration of a 1,000 square foot brick wall. “Throughout Quebec and Canada this means a lot because we are all about bricks,” Stoia says. The recycling machine “sets the tone” for municipalities and the province to consider legislation on the reuse of construction materials. She adds recycling bricks for reuse helps to conserve Quebec’s architectural past.
Good Wood illustrates Portland’s success. Over the past four years, the city has deconstructed more than 420 single-family and duplex homes that were registered as historic places or built before 1940. Good Wood has taken apart 160 of them. Today, 19 contractors are licensed to deconstruct in the city, thanks in part to a city-sponsored training.
The Plaza Hotel in New York City.Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images file
That’s because there is very little the government can do to find out who owns what real estate in the U.S., which has become a “destination of choice” for money launderers throughout the world, said Louise Shelley, the director of the transnational crime and corruption center at George Mason University, who has been an expert witness about how Russian money is laundered through real estate.
A 1940s residence in Terrell Hills is ready for demolition, but before that work begins, Kirt Haeberlin shops for parts of the home he wants to salvage for Picker’s Paradise on Thursday. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report
A quarter of San Antonio’s housing stock consists of homes built before 1965 and 69% of all demolition permits issued in the last decade were for residential structures. Taking building products out of buildings set for demolition and using them for repair of other houses will prevent other demolitions in the long run.
The construction industry is notoriously fragmented, with different sub-contractors often designing and developing parts of buildings without interacting with one another, which means opportunities to reuse materials are missed. However, if each component had a digital ‘passport’ which clearly defined its material composition alongside possible reuse options, materials would be far less likely to be wasted.
Manufacturing bricks is hugely carbon intensive and yet today we cement bricks together so that their life is curtailed. Traditionally, we used soft lime mortar which meant that the brick had a life beyond its original use and today reclaimed bricks can be worth three times the cost of a new brick. Considering this as an example, we are going to have to consider how materials are fixed, coated and sealed so that they can be dismantled and reused.
Leaving older forests to their own devices means safeguarding vital wildlife habitats and healthy ecosystems that fortify our planet’s overall climate stability. If that isn’t reason enough to keep our remaining big trees standing, then perhaps this will tip the scale: Old-growth forests store vast amounts of carbon.
Trucks haul away illegally cut timber from a protected forest area in Cambodia in an undated photo. Credit: Amnesty International/Private
Other community members in Prey Lang said that illegal loggers sometimes offered to buy resin trees from them and that they felt that they had to accept whatever payment was offered because the loggers would cut down the trees regardless.
For example, cities are beginning to adopt materials reclamation policies. These laws require certain buildings to be deconstructed rather than demolished so valuable materials can be reused. Reclaimed products are helpful for the environment and allow construction companies to dodge supply chain shortages, particularly for lumber. For example, the Kendeda Building at the Georgia Institute of Technology was built in part using 25,000 linear feet of reclaimed lumber from film sets around Atlanta.
“Watching the chimney of Scotland’s last coal-fired station fall today represents a real milestone, as the UK moves away from the large polluting power stations of the past and accelerates down the road to net-zero emissions.
Dame Ellen MacArthur and Wolfgang Blau discuss the circular economy. Lucy Parker from the Brunswick Group talks with Professor Marianna Mazzucato from University College London and James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company about how policy can drive us towards a circular economy.
Pittsburgh officials aim to remove blight in neighborhoods by deconstructing city-owned properties that are condemned but not slated for demolition. The deconstruction will involve stripping buildings of useful materials to preserve their integrity so that they can be used in other building applications, according to the city.
This is the 3rd video in the Strong Towns series, and is probably the most important core topic: the fact that American car-dependant cities are financially insolvent, and function like a Ponzi scheme. This is the reason most American cities are bankrupt.
Governor Newsom, Cal Fire, and the California Natural Resources Agency continue to pay lip service to the climate emergency while promoting commercial logging and road building as appropriate responses to the wildfire crisis. They spend millions of dollars on a PR campaign for Nature-Based Solutions, but move forward with business as usual, promoting and approving the logging of millions of acres across the state, burning massive quantities of fossil fuel just to destroy our best ally in our fight to have
A Google Street view of Shreveport, LA downtown area abruptly ending where it meets the highway.
US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is among those who have spoken out on the history of Black neighborhoods being disproportionately divided by highway projects, and has called for righting those wrongs.
The consultant, Tap International, says the Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Program Program needs improvement to ensure that the City’s requirements and the intentions of the program are met.
In December 2020, Victoria council voted to approve an ambitious plan to reduce city waste by 50 per cent by 2040. “If we diverted all the construction waste currently going into the landfill, that would take us 10 per cent of the way to our targets,” said Helps. In an effort to cut red tape for companies like Unbuilders, city staff are in the final stages of drafting a deconstruction bylaw.
“By effecting a step change in how we use and reuse resources, the move to a circular economy will deliver major environmental and economic benefits and is an essential element of making net zero a reality.”
The IRS now maintains that the Manns are not entitled under § 170 to either the original $675,000 fair market value deduction or the amended $313,353 deconstructed value deduction. The IRS asserts that in donating the value of the House, the Manns donated only a part of their interest in the Property, and that such partial-interest donations are impermissible under § 170. In opposition, the Manns assert that they had a discrete interest in the House that could be and was properly and separately donated purs
Logging makes fires worse, not better. One of the most fateful management choices Congress and our federal forest agencies made in the past was to allow logging corporations free reign on public lands to take the biggest, oldest, most fire-resistant trees with them and leave behind flammable piles of slash, dense plantations of young trees and networks of logging roads that would stretch from here to the moon and halfway back. With these roads come more human-sparked fires from logging equipment, irresponsible campers, gunfire and fireworks. Ninety percent of wildland fires are human caused and this labyrinth of logging roads provides the conduit.
“Once materials – raw materials – leave the biosphere and enter the technosphere because they are processed, we need to keep them in the technosphere and recycle or reuse them as much as possible,” Pralle said. “For that we need to create a deconstruction industry as powerful and elaborate as the mining industry.” Pralle said the success of a deconstruction industry
A house on Vancouver’s West Side being dismantled by the group Unbuilders is seen on Sept. 30, 2020.
“What you’re going to see over the next five years is a rollout of deconstruction policy across the board,” said Corniel. “So, we’re the first of our kind in Canada, doing what we do, but this will be the typical way that houses are taken down and taken apart in the future.”
The B-Wa (h) renhaus with its shop-in-shop range of used goods is also a unique project nationwide. It is an important step on the way to ‘department stores of the future’, which offer attractive shopping opportunities for used goods. As part of the Re-Use initiative, three to four “used department stores of the future” are to be built in Berlin in the medium term.
Photographer: Stefan Sauer/picture alliance via Getty Images
Berlin hopes to use the stores to “anchor the re-use of used goods in urban society” by functioning as centers to educate and spread tips on re-use — especially to sections of the public that aren’t currently much involved in the circular economy. The initiative is part of a broader plan from Berlin’s ruling center-left/Green/left coalition that looks to slash waste in all areas of the city’s economy.
The government needs to go further with its circular economy plans if the UK is to reduce its waste and make a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to engineers from the University of Sheffield.
Adding circular economy principles to the planning process would put greater emphasis on retrofitting buildings, designing for adaptability, deconstruction and reuse of materials at end of life. It would both reduce waste, and help to reduce the UK’s demand for new materials.
To be eligible, the structure must be a home or apartment with up to four units built before 1950 and with a renovation area of at least 250 square feet. Moreover, six material types need to be removed to be reused and at least 550 pounds of wood must be salvaged from the project. All non-reusable building materials must be sent to a county-approved C&D recycler.
In recognition of national Preservation Month, Preservation New Jersey (PNJ) announced its annual list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey at a virtual press conference on Thursday, May 14, 2019.
According to the model, no one should fall into the hole in the center of the doughnut, which would mean they don’t have enough to afford basic needs. The outer ring of the doughnut represents the ecological limits of the planet, from biodiversity loss and air pollution to climate breakdown.
The city needs to use original brick to reconstruct the corner of 234 Butler St. Photo by Meg Capone
Federal and state officials have upheld an agreement with the city to reuse tens of thousands of original bricks to restore the facade of the historic Gowanus Station site when construction crews tear down the building for a new water-filtration facility, according to an April 21 letter.
Meanwhile, the ordinance’s continued suspension provides more time to develop a market for materials recycled from deconstructed houses. Selling those materials helps reduce the higher cost of deconstruction.
A 2017 UN Environment report estimated the building sector contributes 49 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions thus making it the single largest contributor to climate change. Globally, building operations account for 28 percent of GHG emissions and the embodied carbon of building materials–the emissions generated in the production, transport, and assembly of materials such as wood, concrete, and steel–accounts for another 11 percent.