Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 7 seconds
I recently discovered that although the words sound similar that there is quite a difference in the results. Using the words interchangeably is not OK. A contractor who contacted me the other day was in the process of demolishing a building and seemed a little off kilter when I caught him misusing the word. The difference between demolition and deconstruction is tremendous, so it made sense for me to clear up any confusion. We are talking about the immediate and urgent “in-your-face”difference between sustainability and not.
Is the act of wrecking, crushing and violently pulverizing a building, then hauling it away to the landfill. Nothing gets reused; usually the metal is recycled for some extra cash. This is “Old School mentality” IMHO.
Is the act of carefully taking a structure apart to reuse, recycle, and repurpose everything possible. It is a kind and thoughtful process that keeps the vast majority of materials out of the landfill, (Up to 90% in many cases).
Of course, no project is completely black and white. Some things get recycled during demolition and some things end up in the trash when deconstructing. You get the point however.
The new way of doing things:
Our throw away mentality is taking a toll; we find ourselves filling up our landfills and have no great alternatives. As they fill up, fees increase and more areas need to be created to put our waste. I’m not sure if we in Idaho are just ahead of our time, but folks seem to be awakening to the sustainability realization that we need to take better care of our environment.
My grandpa Ben lived through the great depression and had a different take on reuse and repurposing. He understood the value of raw materials to the point he would pick up bolts, screws and bent nails on walks. A job site was a treasure trove of stuff he could make things out of in his basement shop.
Levco has learned how to deconstruct buildings. This past year, we connected with The Reuse People of America to form a wonderful partnership. This nonprofit organization recognized our decade worth of reuse, recycling, and repurposing and formally asked me to be a regional manager for the company.
In accepting the position, we have tapped into a nationwide network of like-minded professionals that have been deconstructing for over 20 years. Tips, techniques, tools of the trade, and proven processes have flowed into our little remodeling company. We have also shared a few of our own homegrown ideas.
The Architectural community has embraced the idea of deconstruction and has mandated it as the first step of a Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) project.
Boise City just instituted (8-19-2015) a voluntary GREEN Permitting PROGRAM that allows /encourages folks to have their demolition project evaluated for deconstruction prior to issuing a permit. We are hoping to be able to shed light on our process to give folks an option that they likely did not know was available.
According to Boise Building Inspections Manager Bob Archibald, “The way things have been going is unsustainable; by the time the permit crosses my desk for approval, the client or contractor has already chosen a demolition company to crush the structure. This Green Program will give folks more environmentally conscious options”.
The deconstruction revolution has begun
In Sun Valley Idaho, the Blaine County Assessor arrived at one of our sites to verify that the home was being demolished. “No it is not!” said Ken Hirsch my project manager, “It is being deconstructed, a wildly different process” “I had no idea there was a difference,” she said. Upon explaining our process, she went back to the office to put together an ordinance creating a separate permit for deconstruction.
- Who knows someone who is losing sleep over demolishing a building?
- Who agrees that this is a sustainable way of dealing with expired structures?
This is how it happens, one interaction at a time. What I love about deconstruction is that it makes sense intuitively. Look for Levco to take a leading role in pioneering new opportunities in our communities to make the distinction between demolition and deconstruction, and with any luck lead the pack.
Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261
If you or someone you know is considering tearing down a home or just getting rid of old cabinets. please contact me, you’ll be glad you did.