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back to green buildingDeconstruction

"Deconstruction" is the process of selectively dismantling a whole building to salvage components for reuse. Items typically salvaged during deconstruction include both reusable structural commodities (such as brick, lumber, and gypsum drywall), as well as finished goods (such as windows, flooring, cabinets, and trim).

Although the demolition business has salvaged and/or recycled select items from buildings slated for demolition for years, the practice of deconstruction is relatively new.

Deconstruction is a labor-intensive process, which some may view as cost prohibitive. However, in areas of the country where reuse warehouses and relevant recycling markets exist, deconstruction has proven to be worth the financial outlay.

The Restore in Washington State, a nonprofit building reuse supplier and deconstruction business, estimates that from a typical deconstruction project, about 50 percent of the structure is reused, more than 30 percent is recycled, and less than 20 percent is thrown away. The Restore generally sells reusable materials for less than half the price of new products, while earning about $1,000 in revenues for every ton of material harvested. For more information, see "Deconstructing for Dollars".

Build It Green!, a project of the Community Environmental Center, currently runs New York City's only nonprofit deconstruction operation and building-material reuse center. For more information on Build It Green! and other deconstruction operations, visit products and services. Visit helpful links about green building for more deconstruction information.

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