Thank you to Light House, a social enterprise dedicated to advancing green buildings, thriving communities and resource-efficient cities, for allowing us to share this excerpt.  The full article is available on their website:

http://www.sustainablebuildingcentre.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/July-2013_Construction-in-Reverse.pdf

Project status/timeline: Published in 2013

Project Author: Helen Carruthers, Light House Sustainable Building Centre Society, Vancouver BC

Project Description: Deconstruction is the selective disassembly of buildings into their components for reuse and recycling.  This report explains the concept of deconstruction and its economic and environmental benefits, and includes a case study of a pilot project testing out the feasibility of deconstruction in a $250,000 renovation of a single-family home. The report summarizes challenges encountered in the pilot project and recommendations for governments, industry, and associations, to guide future diversion of construction & demolition waste from residential renovation projects.

Excerpt: 

Deconstruction is the selective disassembly of buildings into their components for re-use and recycling, as opposed to demolition where a site is cleared of its structures by the most expedient means. “Deconstruction has also been defined as ‘construction in reverse’.”1

Approximately sixty-three percent of demolition, land clearing and construction (DLC) waste sent to landfill is wood. As it decomposes in landfills, wood waste releases methane, a greenhouse gas that has a global warming potential 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period.2 The amount of methane generated in Canadian landfills in 2005 was equal to the emissions of 4.7 million passenger vehicles.3 In addition, many municipalities have limited landfill space. A University of Victoria study conducted in 1995 found that 41% of Canadian landfills would run out of space by the end of this decade.4

Deconstruction not only diverts wood from landfill but also reduces the demand for virgin resources on new construction projects. The deconstruction of a typical 2,000-square-foot (190 m2) wood frame home can yield 6,000 board feet of reusable lumber.5  This technique provides a source of quality, low-cost building materials to the local community, allowing for more affordable construction.

Deconstruction also provides other benefits to the local economy. Because it takes more time and skill, deconstruction typically employs five workers for every one in a demolition job.6  Deconstructing a building is a good way to learn how to construct a building, and therefore is well suited to provide on-the-job training to prepare unskilled or low-skilled workers for a career in the construction industry.

Endnotes

1 Wikipedia “Deconstruction (building)”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstruction_%28building%29

2 United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Overview of Greenhouse Gases”, http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

3 Don’t Waste Wood, “Regulators & Municipalities”, http://dontwastewood.com/regulators-municipalities

4 Don’t Waste Wood, “Regulators & Municipalities”, http://dontwastewood.com/regulators-municipalities

5 Wikipedia “Deconstruction (building)”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstruction_%28building%29

6 Second Chance, “Benefits of Deconstruction”, http://www.secondchanceinc.org/index.aspx?u=Benefits_of_Deconstruction