By all accounts, construction waste is massive. This isn’t just waste from new construction, but also what’s coming from remodeling and repurposing buildings. Whenever a sledge hammer bashes through something or a dumpster receives a perfectly good window, it accrues waste. Construction waste is filling up landfills at an alarming rate, stealing huge amounts of labor and energy in the process.
Yet the picture isn’t completely hopeless: there are many ways to reduce this waste, and throughout history people have adopted them, often with successful results. For instance, there are now plenty of opportunities to reuse or repurpose fixtures, and there’s also a strong movement to recycle. Manty owners and construction pros have been finding ways to reduce the material requirements of buildings. So long as you plan, all of this can be accomplished. I recently found an infographic by ModSpace that discusses how building with modular components could be one of the ways to reduce construction waste. Modular construction is a process by which a building is constructed off-site under controlled plant conditions, and although it’s using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as more conventional constructions, it builds facilities in about half the time. Apart from its obvious implications as a time-saver, modular construction also has been proven to reduce construction waste.
Some 160 million tons of construction & demolition (C&D) debris is produced every year, enough to fill over 4 million fully-loaded semi-trucks and making up 24% of solid waste in the US. The average amount of C&D waste in non-residential projects is 4.34 lbs/sq. ft., meaning that a 10,000 square-foot building will produce more than 21 tons! Yet modular construction reduces the amount of waste by 15%, the same as 3 tons per 10,000 square feet of finished office space. Therefore, saving 24 million tons of waste with modular construction is about the same as 8 massive landfill sites. At an average landfill tipping fee of $18.43 per ton, modular could save companies and consumers more than $442 million every year. The evidence reveals that modular construction is a great way to reduce the money and headaches in conventional construction.