By minimizing construction inputs, buying recycled products and using salvaged building materials, building projects can achieve substantial cost savings. Eliminating waste at the source, known as source reduction, saves money and valuable landfill space. There are many opportunities to implement source reduction strategies on construction sites.
A proactive approach
According to the EPA, materials can be reduced during the design phase by planning for efficient framing techniques, using standardized lumber sizes and incorporating prefabricated or modular materials. Value engineering focuses on maximizing resources while maintaining construction value, which results in a finished project that performs the required functions while utilizing the least amount of resources.
Halter agrees. “The earlier you address waste management and the more collaborative the approach, the better.”
Tracking is also very important, especially when there are a number of trades involved (Waste Management offers a web-based Online Recycling and Diversion Tracking tool. Learn more at www.wm.com/DART.)
The EPA offers additional techniques to help reduce costs and prevent waste:
- Increase the spacing of joists and studs, or use 2-by-4 studs instead of 2-by-6 studs; extra insulation can be used in other areas to make up for decreased wall thickness.
- Use a computer assisted design (CAD) program to optimize plywood and drywall use.
- Advanced framing is a system that combines increased spacing of floor joists, reduced headers, and expanded placement of studs (24 in. on center instead of 16 in.). This system requires less material and uses sized lumber more efficiently.
- Use standard lumber sizes in building design to minimize cutoff waste. The use of modular and prefabricated wall sections and trusses can also reduce onsite waste by eliminating cuttings.
- Use steel framing members as an alternative to wood. In addition to being recyclable, steel is stronger and lighter, reduces construction time and costs and provides greater seismic tolerance.
- Many modern buildings make a statement by exposing structural elements. Take advantage of a “less is more” design approach as an opportunity to reduce waste. Additional benefits include decreased costs and opportunities for improved daylighting and indoor air quality.