Green home design focuses on minimizing the impact of construction on the environment. This means using more sustainable materials, using less energy and water while people live there, and deconstruction adds another dimension to green home design.
When designing homes for deconstruction, an architect can address how easy it will be to disassemble a home and reuse the materials. Builders should consider how materials are assembled, i.e. nails and adhesives slow the deconstruction process, to minimize the cost and success of reusing materials.
Home design is expanding beyond how a home looks, and the flow of rooms to support the homeowner's lifestyle. Green building has added a focus on using sustainable materials plus operational efficiencies in how a home uses energy, water and air quality. Deconstruction goes further and looks at how easily construction materials can be reused when the useful life of a house is over.
According to the EPA, material waste from new construction, renovation and demolition comprises 25-30% of the total waste produced each year in the US and UK. This represents 33 million tons of wood-related construction and demolition debris in landfills every years, with 92% coming from renovation and demolition and 8% new construction.
This article is the second in a series on deconstruction and green building:
- DEconstruction: Legos for Building, an introduction to deconstruction and saving money.
- Green Home Design and Deconstruction … this article, explains how deconstruction can be integrated into the building life cycle.
- Buy Versus Reuse Building Materials … this article, provides an overview on reusing building materials.
The Building Life Cycle
As homeowners focus on the small footprint we control, like which house to buy or whether to remodel our kitchen within the existing footprint or put on an addition. Green building asks us to expand our focus to consider how our decisions affect the environment. There are many more decisions that go into building a home and understanding these will help us all become caretakers for our planet.
The goal at each step of the building process is to reduce the amount of debris sent to the landfill.
- Building design (architect) that is less complex will use fewer materials and be easier to dismantle. Designing for future flexibility and adaptability will enable additions and renovations that generate less waste. When a home's design takes into consideration where heating, plumbing and other systems go, it makes deconstruction easier.
- Building materials are becoming more important during the design phase (architect and builder), with consideration given to their capacity to be reused or recycled.
- Building construction methods (builder) should minimize material waste and use materials that are easier to reuse. Care should be taken in the assembly process to minimize the use of nails and glue which make materials difficult or impossible to deconstruct.
- Building maintenance and repair (homeowner and handyman) should focus on protecting all materials and home systems so they can reach their maximize life.
- Deconstruction (homeowner and builder)should consider saving the shell of a building and/or adapting interior spaces to meet the needs of the new building.