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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Real Life LEED: Deconstruction Costs Revealed (aka Sustainable Demolition) [LEED MR Credits]

Great article for you LEEDers:

Real Life LEED is back! Hope the withdrawal wasn't too harsh. I'm looking forward to relieving some of what I'm calling 'killer post constipation' (AKA my post ideas backlog... sorry for the mental image), so be sure to come back soon!

A colleague of mine is working on a LEED project where an existing building on site has been determined not worthy of renovation and is slated to be demolished. Being the good environmental stewards we are (and having a desire not to ruin chances of earning MRc2, Construction Waste Management later on), I was tasked with searching for information about the relative costs and considerations between conventional demolition and the more sustainable deconstruction process."


As reported in a Northeastern study discussed further below, the three primary drivers of the costs and returns on a deconstruction project are (1) labor costs, (2) disposal costs, and (3) the resale or donation value of the salvaged materials. An excellent article out of Remodeling magazine unfortunately determined that "there is no rule of thumb or average square footage cost", as there are too many variables to really make this useful. From articles I've seen across the interwebs, deconstruction premiums can range from a first cost savings to a 200% increase (see the case study on the last page of the Remodeling article), but these premiums are frequently offset by material values. I've seen enough figures citing a 15-30% premium (before salvaged material sales) over conventional demolition costs to feel comfortable giving that figure to a client, with huge non-committal caveats of course.

Commercial Cost Examples

The only commercial cost info I could find was a case study by a Canadian company called Pacific Labour Demolition. On a 6,800 sf office/warehouse building, deconstruction costs showed a 20.9% ($2,128) premium over standard demolition, but that was more than offset by the retail value of the salvaged material at $3,046.

Continue reading:
Real Life LEED: Deconstruction Costs Revealed (aka Sustainable Demolition):


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