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Recycling Buildings

Demolished Buildings Getting A New Story

... Officials at PNC Financial Services, for example, plan to recycle more than 70 percent of the downtown Pittsburgh building they recently began deconstructing, a trend being seen at more demolition sites nationwide.

... "Rather than knocking it down and carting it off to a landfill, if you deconstruct a building and reuse its parts elsewhere, you're saving labor, materials," said Alan Traugott, a founding member of the US Green Building Council.

"You are trying to avoid going for new virgin materials and all the embodied energy and associated environmental impact that reflects," he said.

The practice has become more common, Traugott said, as a distribution network for used building materials has sprung up. Pittsburgh-based Construction Junction, a nonprofit retail store for used and surplus building materials, saves thousands of doors, windows, and cabinets for reuse every year, according to its website.

This is a nice bit of quiet environmental progress. What's especially interesting is that construction material recycling has an array of non-environmental savings. I wonder how much those factors alone are sufficient to push companies toward more recycling, and how much the environmental concern is necessary either to sustain the practice or just to jolt them out of their inertia. I would suspect that the initial development of the distribution network -- which has some big upfront costs and risks -- required a bit of idealism.


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