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Help yourself and the environment with recycled materials

Using recycled and reclaimed materials for construction projects can help curb greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Doing so can also reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

But, while doing good is its own reward, construction companies that use or produce these materials can also enjoy a variety of financial benefits. These include spending less on materials, reducing disposal costs, and even bringing in revenue from the resale of reclaimed building materials or components.

C&D sites

Construction and demolition (C&D) sites are great sources of recycled building materials. These locations are typically run by architectural salvage dealers, demolition contractors, C&D haulers, recycling companies and other entities.

Items found at C&D sites are generally cheaper than “virgin” material, and they may have “vintage” qualities that appeal to certain customers. Examples include:

  • Doors and windows,
  • Lighting and bathroom fixtures,
  • Pipes and fittings,
  • Appliances, and
  • Vintage items such as hand-carved fireplaces or antique doorknobs.

In addition, it may be possible to recycle beams and other structural components, crush masonry for use in sidewalks or road bases or melt down scrap metal for reuse.

C&D sites can also be places to leave materials and walk away with a little extra revenue. For example, instead of simply demolishing a building, you might develop a “deconstruction” plan designed to preserve materials for reuse or resale. Following such a plan can reduce your hauling and disposal costs, too.

Byproducts for building

Too often, the byproducts of industrial processes are disposed of as waste even though they may be valuable sources of relatively inexpensive building materials. Consider fly ash, a byproduct of coal-burning power plants. It can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly replacement for Portland cement in producing concrete. It can also be used to make cultured stone, carpet backing, flooring tile and tile underlayment.

Similarly, air-cooled blast furnace slag can help produce mineral or rock wool insulation. And spent foundry sand can be deployed as base material for building sites. Those used tires you’re pulling off vehicles and equipment? They can be recycled for rubberized walkways, carpet backing or foundation support.

These materials not only reduce costs, but in some cases also offer performance advantages. For instance, fly ash can improve the performance of concrete. And spent foundry sand can extend the construction season in colder climates because it doesn’t freeze as readily as most natural soils.

Potential advantages

As your construction company forges ahead into the new year, consider the potential advantages of recycled and reclaimed building materials. Just be sure to check any items salvaged for lead paint or other toxic substances that may render them unusable.

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