28. Feb 2018

Sustainable Management of Construction and Demolition Debris

The eco-friendly movement and efforts to reduce carbon footprints is active in the construction and demolition (C&D) industry in America. Construction and Demolition materials consist of debris produced during the construction, demolition, and renovation of buildings, roads, and bridges. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advocates for the sustainable materials management (SMM) method that identifies C&D debris as materials that may be reused in a new building project, which minimizes the need to mine and process fresh materials.

What are Construction and Demolition Materials?

Construction and Demolition materials are produced when new building and civil engineering structures are built and when existing buildings and civil engineering structures are demolished or renovated. This can include deconstruction activities. Civil engineering structures include dams, piers, utility plants, bridges, highways, streets, and public works projects.

C&D materials often contain bulky, heavy materials such as:

  • Concrete
  • Wood (from buildings)
  • Asphalt (from roads and roofing shingles)
  • Gypsum (the main component of drywall)
  • Metals
  • Bricks
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Salvaged building components (doors, windows, and plumbing fixtures)
  • Trees, stumps, earth, and rock from clearing sites

How Much C&D Waste Does the U.S. Produce?

Construction and Demolition materials represent a significant percentage of the overall waste stream produced in America. These materials are increasingly diverted from disposal sites and into new productive uses. The EPA produces a waste characterization report that estimate the C&D waste material generation totals in the United States. C&D materials included in the report are asphalt concrete, concrete, clay tile, brick, drywall and plaster, wood products, and steel. The estimates constitute the C&D material amounts from demolition, construction, and renovation activities for buildings, roads, and bridges, and they are based on public data available from government agencies and industry organizations.

For the year 2014, the SMM report shows:

  • 534 million tons of C&D debris were generated in the United States, in 2014—more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste.
  • Demolition represents more than 90 percent of total C&D debris generation, while construction represents less than 10 percent.

Before adding C&D materials to the Advancing SMM Report, the EPA studied the generation of C&D materials, and the agency estimated that 136 million tons of building related C&D materials were produced in 1996. Nearly 170 million tons were produced in 2003, and nonresidential sources represented 61 percent of that total. The largest building sector that produced C&D materials was the nonresidential demolition segment followed by residential renovation.

SV Demolition is committed to environmentally friendly demolition methods. We are active in reducing, recycling, and reusing a wide variety of materials produced during a demolition. For more information, contact us today at 408.218.0993. We look forward to assisting you with your next project that needs a safe, responsible demolition team.