Construction business
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Construction business
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Going “Green” by Using Recycled Construction Materials

These days, “green” building is all the rage, and more commercial developers are interested in building offices and other spaces that are energy efficient, sustainable, and less harmful to the environment. The market has responded with a whole host of earth-friendly building materials.

But we at Leon Williams Contractors have found on some of our commercial construction projects that using such materials can sometimes be cost-prohibitive. We’re certainly willing to use such materials if the developers with whom we work want them included in a commercial building—but often there’s a lot of hesitation about using green building supplies.

If you’re a developer intrigued by the idea of sustainable building, you’ll be interested to know that recycled materials are becoming more common as an affordable green construction option. Over the last couple of years, more companies have devoted themselves to salvaging and reclaiming, and recycling or repurposing building materials and supplies. It’s an involved deconstruction process that requires crews to survey the construction site and get an idea of which items can be reused or repurposed.

Salvaging items from a construction site is time-consuming, but it’s good for the environment—and great when you’re shopping for supplies. Used materials can be as cheap as a third of the original value, and brand new but salvaged items will likely save you half.

So what kinds of recycled items can be used in a commercial construction product? Concrete and asphalt are two popular materials; both can be crushed and either used in that state or remixed and used in the same way they were originally. Wood can also be recycled—everything from plywood to lumber to hardwood flooring can be reused, or any kind of wood can be chipped or ground to be repurposed for other items. You can also pick up steel, aluminum and copper at salvage yards. These can easily be used in framing a building and anywhere else you might need them. Even gypsum can be broken down and reused in new drywall or concrete mixtures.

Just remember, if you are salvaging materials from an old building, that anything with lead paint can’t be recycled. Today’s standards on lead usage are much higher than they were previously, and most builders won’t be able to reuse these items. Also, if you plan to apply for certification from the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, you must do so during the construction phase, and keep track of anything that will give you points toward LEED certification, including using recycled items. Talk to your general contractor about how to track your points.

Using recycled building materials in your next commercial development project might take a little extra time and effort, but if you’re determined to have a green building, we promise it’s worth the effort. Contact Leon Williams Contractors today to find out how we can help!

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