skip to Main Content

Building for the Future: Strategies to Reduce Construction and Demolition Waste in Municipal Projects, Bette K. Fishbein, June 1998, 100 pp.

Synopsis: In cities around the country, construction and demolition (C&D) debris–the waste produced in the course of constructing, renovating, and demolishing buildings–accounts for 10 percent to as much as 30 percent of the total municipal waste stream. In New York City, about 2.25 million tons of this waste are generated every year, approximately half of it from municipal building projects. Despite some success in recent years to increase recycling, most C&D waste ends up in landfills, where the amount of space it occupies creates problems for state and local governments. Building for the Future identifies strategies that have been used successfully around the country to reduce C&D waste during the design, construction, and demolition phases of municipal building projects. Reusing existing buildings; extending building lifetime through effective maintenance; designing buildings to accommodate new functions and technologies; incorporating durable, reusable materials into design plans; and deconstructing buildings rather than tearing them down so materials can be reused–all are strategies that bring down disposal costs, save on landfill space, and reduce the amount of raw materials needed for new projects. This report is the product of INFORM’s involvement with NYC’s effort to develop environmentally responsible building guidelines for its $3 billion capital construction program.

Read the condensed version in English PDF
Read the original report by chapter by clicking on the chapter links in the table of contents, below. Page numbers are preceded by two short dashes ( –3).

Chapter 1 Introduction –1

Why Prevent C&D Waste? –3
The Environmental Rating System –5
Scope of the Project –6
About this Report –7

Chapter 2 Construction and Related Waste in New York City–9

Amount of C&D Waste –9
Composition of C&D Waste –10
Municipal Building in New York City –11
The Capital Planning Process –13
Administration of Construction –15

Chapter 3 Asset Management –17

Maintenance –17
Assessing Needs: To Build or Not To Build? –19
Utilization of Buildings –19
Operating versus Capital Budgets –20
Alternative Officing –21
Value Engineering and Value Analysis –23
Key Steps for New York City –24

Chapter 4 The Project Planning Process –25

Preparing a Waste Plan and Setting Waste Prevention Goals –25
Examples of Waste Plans –26
Establishing Responsibility for Waste –29
Educating Participants –30
Key Steps for New York City –31

Chapter 5 Waste Prevention and Building Design –33

Choosing the Architect –33
Reusing Existing Buildings and Materials –34
Examples of Reuse –35
Preventing Obsolescence: Design for Durability and Adaptability –36
Durability of Materials and Construction –36
Adaptability –37
Design for Disassembly –40
Movable Walls –41
Using Less Material –44
Operational Waste Prevention –46
Key Steps for New York City –47

Chapter 6 Deconstruction/Salvage –49

Deconstructing Public Housing: NAHB/EPA/HUD Pilot Project –50
Setting Goals: The City of Portland –52
Promoting Reuse: The City of Tucson –54
Comparing the Costs of Demolition and Deconstruction: Canada –55
Learning by Doing: US Military Bases –56
The Presidio –56
Fort Ord –58
Fort McCoy –60
Reclaiming Products: The Example of Ceiling Tiles –60
Materials Exchanges and Surplus Programs –62
Key Steps for New York City –63

Chapter 7 Construction Site Waste Prevention –65

Planning and Timing of Purchase and Delivery –65
Storage and Handling –66
Facilitating Materials Reuse –67
Preventing Undoing and Redoing –68
Reducing Packaging Waste: The Take-back Option –68
Key Steps for New York City –72

Chapter 8 Barriers to C&D Waste Prevention in New York City –73

Labor Costs: Is It Cheaper to Throw Away? –73
Space: Where Can Materials Be Stored for Reuse? –75
New York City Regulations: Does Least Cost Mean More Waste? –75
The Wicks Law: Does It Lead to Inefficiency? –76
Construction Goals: How Can We Build for the Future? –78

Conclusion: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future –79


Appendix ATriangle J Council of Governments WasteSpec (Excerpts)
Appendix B Construction Materials Recycling Guidebook, Twin Cities, Minnesota (Excerpts)
Appendix C Contacts for Information on Deconstruction
Appendix D Armstrong World Industries, Inc., Proposed Specification
Appendix E Four Times Square Waste Documentation Forms

Back To Top