How to Reuse, Reduce and Recycle When Building a Home

By Eric Reinholdt, Houzz 

I’m always shocked at the amount of waste I see when visiting a typical project under construction. We all tend to accept that construction is a messy process, but stop to think for a moment about the message that a cluttered and wasteful jobsite sends to our clients. 

It would appear that we’re sending a significant part of their hard-fought-for project budget to the landfill, or worse yet, that the project could’ve cost less than it did. The Construction and Demolition Recycling Association estimates that construction and demolition waste accounts for 325 million tons of waste each year in the United States — about half of which can be directly attributed to residential construction. The U.S. Green Building Council estimates that building construction accounts for a full 40 percent of materials used and 30 percent of the total waste stream in the United States. 

Fortunately, there are many opportunities for us architects and designers to reduce these staggering numbers. And they capitalize on our talents as designers, appeal to our inherent need for organization, help our clients save money, are more resource efficient and enhance energy performance in the long term. What’s not to like? 

Related: What Homeowners Should Know About Zero Net Energy 

Most of us are familiar by now with the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra, the basic tenets of which apply here as we seek to minimize construction and demolition waste. But there are also ways that we architects and designers can positively affect the waste stream through design and material specification decisions. Design is by far one of the most powerful tools at our disposal.