“Sustainable building” has become a national catchphrase. In architects’ offices and on construction sites around the country there’s increasing emphasis on reducing the environmental impacts of renovation and new construction. Ranking systems like the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) gain momentum from month to month.
Recycling Construction and Demolition Debris (C&D recycling) is one of the most important aspects of this movement. And perhaps most important, on a lifecycle basis, recycling produces usable materials at much less environmental cost than materials from primary sources. That is, in addition to conserving raw materials, recycling conserves energy and water, and reduces the production of greenhouse emissions and other pollutants. On and off the job site, recycling is one of the most significant commitments that can be made to sustainable building.
More practically, recycling is good for two or more LEED points. One LEED point is awarded for a recycling rate of 50%; a second for a recycling rate of 75%. Some waste reduction and recycling strategies (e.g., returning wastes to the jobsite in new products) can also qualify for additional innovation points. These are among the simplest and easily among the most cost effective LEED points in the book.
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The U.S. Green Building Council developed LEED, an internationally recognized green building certification system, to provide third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.