One of the least green aspects of building or renovating is the waste that is created. Figures from North America estimate that 3 600 kg of waste are typically thrown into the landfill during the construction of a 700 square metre home. Landfill operations are generally under pressure and are expensive. Transportation to sites, normally at a distance from residential areas, increases the carbon footprint of a project. Waste from sources such as solvents or chemically treated wood can result in soil and water pollution.
What I’ve learned is that it is really easy and fun to minimize waste. Many materials can be re-used. I’m saving items such as doors, stainless steel sinks, balustrading, metal gates curtain rails etc to put into the new house.
The Oregon floor has already been lifted and installed in a new home. The slate tiling is being carefully stacked for the same.
The cavity left in the floor will be filled with the rubble from the walls to be demolished.
Re-purposing other materials just needs a little planning. For example, all the brickwork in the garden is being lifted and stacked to be reincarnated into veggie planters. All decent solid wood from cabinetry and shelving will be re-used for storage units.In South Africa we have programmes whereby flourescent light bulbs and old shower heads can swopped for LED’s and energy-efficient products, green and economical. Great combo!
Perhaps the greenest aspect of Day 1 of this project was measures to conserve. A fence has been built around our precious Pavetta lanceolata (Bride’s Bush) which is located where it could easily get destroyed. Thanks Pretty, Wise and 3rd person (still to learn name). I appreciate that traditional building practices are not very sensitive to the vegetation on site and it means a great deal to us that these measures have been taken.
Lastly, the easiest and most fun part of green demo is donating the multitudes of materials that don’t have much resale value but are desirable to many. Friday was the first day of our build and it is clear that everything from the old melamine kitchen, windows, doors, in fact all manner of materials will find new homes. People were literally walking in off the street asking what they might have. So no excuses, South Africans. We can massively reduce our contribution to landfill and help out a few people at the same time.