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  • Writer's pictureTrieste Reading

LEED projects are helping to make Canada a leader in energy and environmental design

Recently we made a post on Facebook discussing the importance of recycling and reusing building materials that got a very warm reception from our audience. We thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss the impact of green demolition and sustainability in more detail.

As an environmental services company, we know the importance of recycling and reusing building materials where permitted. Since we remove hazardous materials from buildings, any materials that are impacted must be disposed of according to proper WorkSafeBC regulations. However, building materials that were not impacted can be sorted and brought to the proper recycling centre to be reused in some capacity in the future.

LEED Project Certification

In one of our current asbestos abatement jobs in New Westminster we are adhering to the LEED program. This Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green building in 150 countries. LEED recognizes that sustainability should be at the heart of all buildings – in their design, construction, operation, and even demolition. Their website notes that “buildings generate up to 35% of all greenhouse gases, 35% of landfill waste comes from construction and demolition activities, and 70% of municipal water is consumed in and around buildings.” In fact, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) states that since 2004, they have certified over 2,600 LEED buildings in Canada and registered over 6,000, which is the second highest number in the world.

LEED Projects in Action

Since we are not a builder we do not need register our projects with the CaGBC; however, we work with several companies who are registered with the CaGBC and therefore we follow the LEED project certification regulations. This means that non-asbestos containing building materials need to be sorted and brought to the proper recycling facilities. In our current, 40 days abatement job in New Westminster, we are working on a complete interior gut of the property in order to prepare for demolition. Once the asbestos mudding compound was removed, along with all of the drywall and plaster, we were able to sort and recycle several building materials, including but not limited to, wood and metal.*

*Because of the sporadic placement of the mudding compound all drywall and plaster was treated as asbestos containing.

Materials to Be Sorted

When completing projects such as this you should be sorting materials into the following categories, according the City of Vancouver:

  • Drywall/ gypsum

  • Asphalt roofing shingles

  • Concrete, plaster

  • Metal

  • Clean wood (unpainted, untreated wood/ lumber)

  • Items salvaged for reuse (fixtures, windows, doors, cabinets, flooring, bathtubs, etc.)

  • Appliances/ mechanical (stove, fridge, hot water tank, furnace, electrical panel, etc.)

  • And garbage (non-recyclable materials disposed to landfill)

The City of Vancouver notes that in 2007, about 3.6 million tonnes of solid waste was generated in Metro Vancouver. They write that although 55% of this is currently diverted from the landfill, the Demolition, Construction and Landclearing sector still send about 350,000 tonnes of waste to the landfill that could have otherwise been diverted. However, there are options that now exist to help people recycle and reuse building materials. In particular, items salvaged for reuse such as doors and fixtures, could be the inspiration for someone’s next DIY project. For more information, click here to view Vancouver Green Capital and the City of Vancouver’s Salvage and Reuse Guide.

Environment and Community

Programs, such as LEED, that support sustainability in all aspects of building design, construction, operation, and even demolition have a significant and lasting positive impact on the environment and surrounding communities. Whether you are working on LEED project or not, you should be mindful of the environment and work to follow as many green demolition/ deconstruction guidelines as you can.

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