We're not as green as we think we are

There is no such thing as a green construction site. Not right now, at least.
There are green buildings, but no green construction sites, and no green demolitions, at least when it comes to re-useable materials that are simply thrown away. According to the Construction Resources Initiative Council, buildings use 40% of global resources, and produces a monolithic amount of waste, 85% of which can be reused.
The CRI Council’s recent Mission 2030 meeting expanded the idea of sustainability to cover a building’s entire life cycle. According to founder Renée Gratton, the Mission 2030 initiative encourages industry professionals to become agents for change, to work together towards the goal of eliminating construction, demolition, and renovation waste to landfill by 2030.
Waste production increasing steadily
She points out that waste generation has been increasing steadily since 1980, and that Canadians now produce the most waste per capita across some 17 countries. As CRI Council President Elizabeth Miller put it, “we are on the cusp of a war with waste.” She also suggested Canadians are apt to forget how finite our resources really are and that we are glutted with land, buy many people adopt an out of sight, out of mind approach to landfill.
Speaker John Lackie of the Solid Waste Association of North America pointed out that not only do landfills degrade the soil and water of the surrounding region, they also produce a large amount of methane as waste decays, and entail a high economic and social costs for the surrounding regions.
Landfill capacity will continue to decline in the coming years, so a reduction in the amount of waste sent to them is essential.
Gratton and Miller, along with their industry partners, and other members of the CRI Council, hope to create a paradigm shift in the Canadian construction industry by increasing the awareness of the social and economic costs of excess waste, and a fundamental re-evaluation of the ways that we view and deal with resources.

Encouraging industry participation
The CRI Council is encouraging industry leaders to measure their construction and demolition waste in 2013, and commit to a reduction to landfill of 35% by 2015, ramping up to 100% by 2030.
They are also encouraging the adoption of a more holistic view of green building, to ensure that they are sustainable for the duration of their life cycle, instead of simply viewing LEED certification of the final product as the only worthwhile goal.
Buildings should be efficient from inception to eventual removal, which, in some cases, may mean designing with demolition or adaptation in mind. In others, it may require planning based on available recycled and reused materials, instead of acquiring materials based on an already established design.
While the CRI Council’s timeline for waste reduction to landfill is, admittedly, ambitious, the changes they propose are both timely, and necessary.
Industry leaders have become acutely aware of the need to adapt business practices to reflect dwindling resources, to create a closed system of use, and reuse.

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