Keywords: building deconstruction, green building practice, demolition, reuse, recycling, solid waste reduction, waste recovery, environmental economics, cost-benefit analysis, construction industry
Deconstruction of structures: an overview of economic issues
As federal, state and municipal governments strive to reduce the volume of solid waste that is buried or incinerated, salvaging reusable and recyclable building materials through 'deconstruction' is rapidly becoming an attractive alternative. Until recently, most contractors and developers have relied primarily on business profitability considerations when making the 'demolition vs. deconstruction' decision which, not surprisingly, have favoured demolition because demolition is often faster, less labour intensive, and usually more convenient. Slowly but surely, the balance is shifting – an increasing number of deconstruction projects have shown that deconstructing buildings can be economically and technically viable. The lessons of these projects as well as public policies aimed at providing the appropriate incentives (as well as disincentives) can help in the maturation of a market-based deconstruction industry as part of the larger construction industry cluster.