Project Status: Looking for Researcher

Background
Materials generated from construction and demolition (C&D) activities represent almost one third of disposed waste in Metro Vancouver. Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan (the plan) renewal process will begin in 2020. The plan will revise regional diversion goals and actions to reduce the quantity of waste generated within the region, including C&D.

Even though the C&D sector already experiences high diversion rates due to concrete and asphalt recycling, there is significant room for improvement associated with reusing building materials, specially wood. Wood products are still the largest component of C&D waste going to landfills and could potentially be recovered at earlier stages.

In recent years, eight municipalities across Metro Vancouver have implemented demolition waste recycling requirements to encourage reuse and recycling of building materials and help achieve the region’s diversion goals.

Some municipalities in the region, such as the City of Vancouver, have focused on single-family homes that contain old growth lumber and unique architectural elements for salvage and materials that can be readily recycled in the region. Under the Green Demolition Bylaw, single family homes and duplexes built before 1950 in Vancouver must reuse or recycle at least 75% of demolition materials. The figure is 90% for homes with character status. The City expects a final expansion of the bylaw to all homes once they identify sufficient market capacity in the region. However, the City is concerned that certain materials used in post-1970s homes may not be recyclable to the standards required under the Green Demolition Bylaw.

The type and quantity of building materials in new single-family houses have changed significantly during the past 50 years. In the 1970s, important architectural and structural changes took place in the construction of single-family homes, including increased house size and different types of building products. For example, plywood and particle board widely replaced lumber in different uses in construction of wood-framed houses. These materials that involve the use of glue have proved to be harder to recycle as remanufactured wood products.

Municipalities with new housing may not be a market for salvaged lumber if deconstruction is required for single-family homes built after the 1970s. Deconstruction experts have suggested that jurisdictions in this situation could focus on commercial buildings, such as warehouses built with large timbers.

Project description
The purpose of the project is:

  • Identify the type, quality, and potential for reuse and recycling of building materials found in post-1970s single family homes and commercial buildings in Metro Vancouver.
  • Estimate the quantity of salvageable lumber in single-family houses built after the 1970s and commercial buildings in Metro Vancouver.
  • Provide either a quantitative assessment, or a qualitative commentary of the feasibility of recycling building materials in post-1970s homes and buildings, compared with pre-1970s homes and buildings.
  • Estimate the impact of spray foam insulation on recyclability of building materials.
  • The outcomes of the study will help inform Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities if reuse and recycling of materials in newer homes and commercial buildings is feasible in the region. This information will help develop strategies to extend useful life of building materials, and get feedback from the C&D industry stakeholders during the review process of the plan.

Project Deliverables

  • Bi-weekly email/call to share updates on progress.
  • Final report and summary for Metro Vancouver.
  • Presentation to Metro Vancouver staff outlining key findings of the research.

Time Commitment & Funding

  • 250 hours to complete the work.
  • This project must be completed between May and September 2020.
  • This is a paid research opportunity funded by Metro Vancouver. Please submit your proposal based on the scope of work and estimated hours to complete the project.  

Required/Preferred Skills

  • Excellent research and writing skills. Please provide a writing sample.
  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Familiarity or experience conducting in-person surveys.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Familiarity with research methodologies and survey techniques.
  • Familiarity or experience working with the construction industry.

Application Process:

For more information or to apply to the position, please contact the BC SWRC Coordinator at hello@bcswrc.ca.