Building Deconstruction: Reuse and Recycling of Building Materials
Powell Center for Construction and Environment, University of Florida
PO Box 115703, Gainesvil\-le, Florida USA 32611-5703, Tel: (352)-392-7502
On behalf of:
Alachua County Solid Waste Management Innovative Recycling Project, August, 2000
The Construction Site Supervisor for this project was Mr. Kevin Ratkus. Data Collection was performed by Mr. Sean McLendon and Mr. Bradley Guy. The Principal Author of this report was Mr. Bradley Guy, including materials prepared by Mr. Sean McLendon.
The PCCE deconstructed six (6) houses during 1999-2000 to examine the cost-effectiveness of deconstruction and salvage when compared to traditional demolition. This research was funded through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Innovative Recycling Projects grant program through Alachua County. The one and two-story houses that were deconstructed represent typical Southeastern US wood-framed residential construction from 1900 to 1950. Regulatory issues included the costs and implementation of environmental, demolition, and historic permitting practices in the Gainesville / Alachua County, Florida region, and handling of lead-based paint (LBP) materials, and asbestos containing materials (ACM). Worker safety issues and technical issues included protection from environmental and site hazards and a case-by-case materials management process for each building. Reuse and materials redistribution scenarios include on-site and off-site redistribution and associated costs and benefits. Over 500 pieces of salvaged lumber were visually graded by the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau, to understand the damage of use and the deconstruction process on salvaged lumber in reducing use in structural applications.
KEYWORDS: deconstruction, selective dismantling, C&D wastes management, building salvage, building materials reuse.
From August, 1999 to May, 2000 the Powell Center for Construction and Environment, University of Florida, with funding from Alachua County Public Works Division and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) deconstructed six (6) wood-framed residential structures in Gainesville, Florida. University students provided labor on the first three buildings and Americorps*NCCC members worked on the second three. Houses were acquired mainly through word of mouth. Permitting processes included issues of historic preservation, demolition delay requirements, licensed contractor requirements and environmental, safety and health certifications for hazardous materials management, utility disconnections, and septic tank removals. Each house was tested for lead-based paint (LBP) and asbestos containing material (ACM). All structures were completely removed from the site, comparable to a total demolition. Time and activity data was collected for each worker and all associated costs and estimated revenues from salvaged materials were calculated. Each building was also estimated for demolition in order to make a comparison with deconstruction and salvage. There was considerable variety in the buildings’ conditions, the location of the buildings, and the efficiency of each deconstruction.
The structures ranged from approximately 1000 to 2000 SF and were both single and two-story. The oldest structure was built in 1900 and the youngest built in 1950. The typical construction was a raised wood floor structure on brick and/or concrete piers, light wood wall-framing, roof rafters, and interior and exterior wood cladding and sheathing. Two structures had plaster and lathe interior wall finishes. In one case gypsum wallboard was applied directly over the wood beadboard interior wall finish. One structure also had two roof finishes, metal over asphalt shingles, and two floor finishes, an oak floor laid directly on top of a pine floor. All of the structures had rot from water damage principally in kitchen or bath floor areas, but also including wall areas at leaks from the roof.
Table One – Summary of BuildingsBuilding address # 2930 711 14 2812 901 3650
Built 1915 1945 1900 1900 1920’s 1950
Stories 1 2 2 1 1 1
Light framed wood construct. Y / CMU Y Y Y Y Y
Size (SF) 2,014 1,436 2,059 1,238 992 1,118
Urban or rural-sized parcel Rural Urban Urban Rural Rural Rural
Additions Y Y Y Y Y Y
# of additions 3 1 1 2 3 1
Internal renovations Y N Y N Y N
Inhabitable Y N Y N Y Y
Require major repair N Y N Y N N
Exterior wall finish Y N N N N N
Roofing N N Y N N N
Insulation N N Y N N N
Floor tile Y N Y N N Y
Drywall N N Y N N N
Abatement Y N Y N N Y
Interior trim N N Y Y N N
Exterior trim Y Y N Y N Y
Interior surfaces N Y N N Y N
Exterior surfaces N Y Y N Y Y
Reason for removal
Redevelopment site Y Y Y Y
Taxes / expense Y
Safety / disuse Y
Homeless / fire hazard Y
All of the structures had additions, and these were typically for; 1) adding enclosed living space, 2) adding kitchen and bathroom facilities on older structures, 3) enclosing an existing open porch area. Four (4) out of six (6) could be made habitable, and three (3) of six (6) had been recently occupied prior to the building’s removal. One (1) house had been occupied by homeless persons without heating, kitchen, or bathroom facilities. Three (3) of the six (6) structures were found to have asbestos containing materials (ACM) requiring abatement. Two (2) of the structures contained only non-friable asbestos which could have been “wet demolished” by mechanical means but would have required the entire demolition wastes load to be disposed off in a hazardous materials landfill. Only one building had LBP only on the inside, typically LBP was found on exterior window and door trim, where it was used in gloss and semi-gloss paint for durability.
Two (2) of the six (6) buildings were on property slated for immediate commercial or multi-family redevelopment, two (2) were on property slated for long-term redevelopment, and two (2) buildings were on land not slated for redevelopment. The latter two (2) structures may have been left vacant for an indeterminate length of time if they had not been used for this project. During the course of the project, one building verbally committed to the deconstruction project, on a site slated for commercial redevelopment, was demolished. In addition, two candidate buildings, on sites slated for redevelopment, were moved. One structure that was considered for the project was considered too dilapidated for a reasonable deconstruction and another was passed over due to scheduling conflicts and was subsequently partially renovated by the owner. The average size of the six structures was 1,476 SF.
Based upon literature review and anecdotal information, this sample of structures would appear to be representative of residential demolitions in the United States. Also, approximately 94% of all residential buildings built each year in the US are light wood-framed construction (NAHB, 1994).
On-site labor was documented by recording each worker’s activities on a 15-minute time increment. There have been several well-documented deconstruction pilot projects in the US with this detail of data collection, most notably the Fort Ord Pilot Deconstruction project conducted by the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (Cook, 1997) and the Riverdale Pilot Deconstruction Project conducted by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center (NAHBRC, 1997). These projects provided models for creating the data collection process. Data is divided into two categories; the deconstruction of the structure and the processing of the salvaged materials. The cost of a traditional demolition was calculated for each structure, including disposal costs. Salvage revenues were estimated using a percentage (25-50%) of retail prices from local building materials suppliers and the experience of a former used building materials store owner/operator in Gainesville, Florida. Disposal costs were estimated by weight and costs data provided by the wastes haulers for the project.
Worker labor activities were sub-divided into categories by the location in, or component of, the building in order to calculate the costs of deconstructing a particular component of the building, and the costs to salvage a unit of a particular material. The latter information was used to assign a unit cost of extraction and processing that could be compared to the pricing units for materials, i.e. number, linear feet, or board foot of material. Labor productivity data was collected in the following task categories:
Directing and planning the flow of work on the job site.
Labor involved in the initial removal of materials from the structure. Any manual or mechanical procedure required to remove materials for salvage, either the direct handling of a material or removing other materials to gain aPCCEss to the salvage material.
The hand or mechanical removal of building materials for direct disposal.
Preparing materials for redistribution in reusable form. Denailing is the most typical processing activity.
No work is being performed. Includes breaks and the unloading and clean-up of daily tools, but excludes lunch.
(C) lean-up / (Dis) posal
Sweeping and/or removing debris or demolition materials from a work area and/or disposal into a roll-off container.
Loading or unloading materials from the site onto a truck for transport and at the final storage area.
The largest percentage of time on any deconstruction was the deconstruction activity, an average of 26% of total time. The next greatest percentage of time was spent in processing materials at an average of 21%. Disposal and cleaning required an average of 17% of total time. Demolition required an average of ~12% of total time. The house with the largest percentage of time spent for deconstruction was the house at 901 SR 301 (47.8%). This house was being removed for redevelopment and had a very short time frame for the deconstruction. It was also located on a major highway in the corner of a shopping center site, and materials were redistributed by placing them neatly in separate piles at the site and posting “Free Materials” signs to encourage passersby to remove the materials themselves. All of the materials were removed within one day after the completion of the deconstruction.
Table Two – Sample Data SheetLocation:
Activity Supervise Decon Process Demo
S Dec P Dem
Clean/Disposal Non-Prod Load
Int W Fin
NL Int W
Roof StrExt W tr
Ext W FinExt W sh
Ext W Str
1×3 Wd flr
1×4 Wd flr
The house with the lowest percentage of time in deconstruction was the house at 711 NW 7th Avenue (12%). This structure was in the poorest condition of any of the structures and therefore had the lowest amount of salvage. Commensurately, this building had the highest percentage of time spent in disposal and cleaning (39.6%). Excluding the house at 711 NW 7th Avenue which had a very low salvage rate and very little processing (4.3%), processing was a relatively consistent percentage of time between 18 – 30% of total time. The house at 711 NW 7th Avenue had the highest percentage of time spent in demolition, consistent with low deconstruction and high disposal and cleaning efforts.
100.00Average per SF
The deconstruction process roughly follows the reverse of the construction process. The materials that have been put on last will come off first. Variations occur between whole building sections, for example, an addition will be removed in its entirety separately from the rest of the building. The practice of focusing on each material type in a reverse order of the construction process is more efficient for separating materials for reuse, recycling, and disposal at the time of removal. Additions are an impediment to removing one type of material or whole sections of the original structure, but can provide a working surface for other parts of the building, and be structurally dependent on other parts of the building. For these reasons, additions were typically removed in their entirety, regardless of breaking up the material-by-material consistency of the deconstruction process.
The net cost of the deconstruction is modeled by the expression: (Deconstruction + Disposal + Processing) – (Contract Price + Salvage Value) = Net Deconstruction Costs. The net cost for demolition is: (Demolition + Disposal) – (Contract Price) = Net Demolition Costs. If materials are not resold or redistributed on-site or reused by the deconstruction contractor in new construction, transportation and storage costs may be additional costs for deconstruction. In order for deconstruction to be cost-effective and competitive with traditional demolition and disposal, the sum of the savings from disposal and revenues from resale of materials, must be greater than the incremental increase in labor cost for deconstruction versus demolition.
There are multiple options for contracts and costs/revenues between a building owner and the deconstruction contractor, such as:
Deconstruction as a service to the building Owner and the Owner retains ownership of the salvaged materials. This can also be a guaranteed “buy back” of the materials and treated according, with some consideration for the Contractor’s costs for processing and handling. The Owner will pay more than demolition but could be “buying” very high value materials.
Deconstruction with shared ownership of the materials, with a reduction in the deconstruction contract based upon the Contractor receiving materials as in-kind payment.
Deconstruction with the Contractor retaining all materials, and charging an internally calculated price based upon revenues to be received from resale of salvaged materials.
A non-profit deconstructor performs a deconstruction for a fee and the Owner donates the materials as a tax write-off.
An economic factor for deconstruction on a redevelopment site is the time costs of money in financing and construction loan interests. A large site may allow an unwanted structure to be isolated from the other construction activity and be deconstructed without delaying the site development. In the case of a site where the new construction will take place on the footprint of the existing structure, the time for removal of the existing structure by deconstruction is a significant economic impediment.
The City of Gainesville has a unique demolition permitting process which allows the City to place a 90-day demolition delay on any residence that may have historic value (older than 45 years). During this 90-day delay, the structure is posted as free to anyone willing to pay the costs of moving. This delay can be waived by demonstrating a financial hardship. There are no historic districts or delays in Alachua County.
There is no differentiation in Alachua County and the City of Gainesville between a deconstruction and a demolition for permitting purposes. The total costs of permits range from $60 to $100 for single or two-story residential structures. The City of Gainesville charges by the total number of stories of a structure, and Alachua County charges by the estimated value of the demolition work. These permitting factors and low cost are not conducive to encouraging deconstruction.
A possible incentive for deconstruction under the 90-day delay ordinance is to shorten the delay to 30 days, for example, for a “deconstruction permit”. By shortening the delay for deconstruction, it would be less viable to claim economic hardship posed by the delay, some time is allowed to arrange a building removal, and sufficient time is allowed for deconstruction and still result in a net reduction over the 90-day delay.
The City of San Jose has been developing a construction demolition debris deposit (CDDD) as a means to encourage reuse and recycling of building materials. This deposit, similar to the bottle deposit, requires an upfront deposit based upon estimated waste generation. Upon completion of the project and documentation of reuse for distribution or transfer to an appropriate recycling option or 50% of the waste generated by the project, the refund is returned. This procedure combines the demolition permit with an economic incentive to reuse and recycle the demolition debris.
For the purposes of maintaining worker health and safety, deconstruction is a distinct activity in EPA and OSHA regulations. Relevant environmental and worker health and safety regulations governing the deconstruction of buildings include: US EPA National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) Asbestos Regulations (40 CFR 61, Subpart M), Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) Asbestos Regulations (29 CFR 1910.1001), OSHA Lead Regulations (29 FCR 1926.26) and Classifications of Landfills Florida Statue Rule 62-701.200 (19).
Hazardous Materials in Deconstruction
The NESHAPS regulation requires any commercial properties or residential properties greater than 4 units to have a reasonable effort to identify hazardous materials prior to demolition or deconstruction. The NESHAPS regulation also controls the techniques for removal, containment, and transport of asbestos containing materials (ACM).
The NESHAPS regulations exempt residential structures of 4 dwelling units or less. Residential units demolished as part of larger public or commercial projects such as highway construction and shopping centers are not exempt from NESHAPS even if less than 4 dwellings units. A group of individual residential buildings under the same ownership on a site is considered an installation and is also not exempt from the NESHAPS regulations. Hazardous materials are required to be disposed of in a lined landfill or other disposal facility that is permitted for those materials.
Worker environmental safety is regulated under OSHA and EPA guidelines regardless of the construction activity. The PCCE utilized a certified LBP and ACM surveyor to perform a lead-based paint (LBP) survey and an asbestos survey when asbestos containing materials (ACM) are visually identified during the building assessment. The building assessment survey also included noting the presence of fluorescent lights, thermostats, or high-density discharge lamps that may contain mercury or PCBs, and containers of suspect chemicals, paint, oil, etc. A Phase II ESA investigation is conducted with spot testing for LBP for all structures.
LBP is assumed in any structure built prior to and during the period between 1970 – 1980 and OSHA began ACM regulation in 1970. Between 83% and 86% of all homes built before 1978 in the United States have lead-based paint in them. The older the house, the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint and to have a higher concentration of lead in the paint. Houses built before 1950 pose the greatest hazard to children because they are much more likely to contain lead-based paint than newer houses. (CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC))
Samples were taken from all suspect, homogeneous ACM and LBP surfaces on all of the structures in this study. Polarized Light Microscopy with dispersion staining was used to analyze the ACM samples using US EPA Interim Method for the Determination of Asbestos Minerals in Bulk Materials. LBP samples are tested using the NIOSH Method #7082. Samples were analyzed by EMSL Analytical, Inc., Program, Greensboro, NC. The HUD minimum threshold for the presence of lead is 0.5% Pb. A summary of LBP findings for the structures is provided in Table Five.
According to the US EPA, regulated ACM (RACM) is: a) friable asbestos material; b) Category I non-friable that has become friable; c) Category I non-friable that will be subject to sanding, grinding, cutting, abrading; d) Category II non-friable that has a high probability of becoming friable in the course of renovation or demolition activity.
Removal and disposal of all friable asbestos must be completed prior to demolition by a licensed professional asbestos abatement firm. Category I non-friable ACM (asphalt roofing shingles, floor tiles) and Category II non-friable ACM (asbestos siding shingles, transite board) need to be removed prior to demolition only if they are RACM.
Category I non-friable ACM flooring and shingle materials and Category II non-friable ACM are not RACM and do not have to be abated prior to demolition if they are in good condition and not likely to become friable during demolition. Removal of Category I non-friable ACM is permitted according to the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) aPCCEptable work practices. The NRCA association’s recommendations are to remove asbestos shingles by hand and lower them to the ground. Theoretically, demolition should render all ACM to be regulated since it is comprised of crushing, cutting, and grinding activities. However, Category II non-friable ACM is allowed to be demolished in place using proper wetting and containment techniques during the removal and transport.
Because deconstruction poses a greater worker exposure than mechanical demolition it is prudent to remove all ACM, both RACM, and ACM that is in good condition. Any materials with asbestos are also not viable for reuse. In effect, all ACM must be abated prior to deconstruction whether it is considered regulated or not, which could add significant costs to a deconstruction project over traditional demolition. Any components that are either intended for reuse with LBP remaining on the material or materials that have been repainted to encapsulate the LBP require notification that the material contains LBP. Salvaged materials are not allowed to sit on exposed soils where there is potential for the LBP to leach into the soil. Salvage materials are either moved off –site to an appropriate storage facility, or stored on 6 mil polyethylene sheeting and a waterproof covering. Wastes materials are placed directly into standard 20, 10 and 8 cubic yard roll-offs.
Table Four – Lead and Asbestos Sample Results by Location (6 houses)
Duct tapeSuspect ACM