The US alone produces over 500 million tons of construction and demolition waste that ends up in landfills annually. This is due to the fact that most of the material like gypsum wallboard, timber, and metals from demolition/ dismantling, that can be reused or recycled is not recovered. Not only does it pollute the local environment including soil and water, it increases greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to global warming thus upsetting the land ecosystem.
Another fact is that smart buildings, with their better building operations and energy management systems, has rendered older buildings obsolete. As the number of such buildings increases, experts suggest that the need for sustainable deconstruction or disassembly should be considered prior to construction.
This has led to the need for creating buildings based on the principles of “Designing for Disassembly’.
Understanding Designing for Disassembly
The process of designing products such that they can be cost-effectively and rapidly taken apart at the end of its lifecycle, making the components pliant for reuse and/or recycle.
This ensures that the building can be quickly renovated or dismantled either partially or wholly and its parts (systems, materials, and components) can be reused or recycled as reconstituted building materials. This design process includes developing assemblies, components, materials, construction techniques, and information and management systems to accomplish this goal. The goal is to prevent buildings from becoming obsolete too quickly and extending the life cycle through quick and easy repairs and renovations.
Advantages of/ Why Designing for Disassembly?
- Maximize economic value
Designing for disassembly maximizes the economic value of a building as the new owners/occupants do not have to incur heavy expenses towards modification of the building. Builders can recycle or upcycle most of the components and materials used during construction to optimize costs during the planning stage. Remodeling a building with recycled materials and systems ensures substantial savings. Additionally, buildings designed using this principle, reduce labor and time required for demolition by half.
- Optimise resource utilization and minimize environmental impact
As most components can be recovered, renovated, recycled/ upcycled, the dismantling/demolition process does not create as much debris as compared to buildings constructed in the traditional way. Using this method increases the building’s lifecycle and in case of demolition, most of its components can be reused. As the concept takes into consideration materials that can be reused, it significantly reduces emissions caused during the demolition of a building like dust, noise and mechanical equipment emissions, resulting in a lesser environmental impact. Additionally, it ensures better health for workers and occupants through reduction of toxic material selection for construction.
- Flexibility in building design and ease of maintenance
Modifying or altering the building, according to its usage is easier as the design takes into consideration how to disassemble/ dismantle the building part by part during the planning stage itself. Considering the rapidly evolving technological environment, it is very important that the building is designed such that it can keep up with the necessary changes that the new technology environment brings about.