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Site preparation can have a major impact on the long-term success of any construction project. Depending on the type of work you do, site prep can include everything from demolition of homes and buildings to clearing of trees and vegetation to removing parking lots and streets. Careful project planning with an eye toward cost savings and preserving the site and surrounding areas is a must.

Construction site prep also produces lots of waste — which always presents its own logistics and cost management challenges. As you look for ways to reduce costs and increase margins, materials that can be repurposed, sold, donated or recycled can create new and sometimes surprising opportunities. For example, some contractors have gained new business as a result of showing their commitment to the community and environment with these types of efforts.

In fact, Waste Plan Solutions Ltd (WPS), a United Kingdom-based consultancy, recently announced a project to develop a BIM (Building Information Modelling) extension software tool, known as DRIM (Deconstruction and Recovery Information Modeling). The software will identify in advance the re-usable and recoverable materials at the end of building’s life and introduce the concept of material recovery at the initial stages of the construction process. DRIM is expected to be available within two years.

So which materials can be sold and recycled? Which can be reused onsite, and how? And how do you best manage the soil moved during excavation? Here’s some quick clarification from the EPA and other sources to help you sort through the clutter.

Commercial/Residential Deconstruction and Reuse
Deconstruction refers to the selective disassembly of buildings and/or sites to facilitate the reuse or recycling of valuable materials.
• Some items can be sold to used building materials stores such as Habitat for Humanity outlets, salvaged wood distributors, scrap recyclers and a variety of exchanges.
• Depending on the site, some recovered items can be sold to high-end salvaged architectural exchanges or outlets.
• Some municipalities use concrete waste for soil stabilization or reprocess it for use in roads and foundation. Rubble (concrete, bricks, cinderblock, tile) can be crushed and sieved for use as an aggregate.
• Some contractors advertise the sale of various materials right from the site.

Commonly reused items include:
• Cabinets • Construction-grade lumber • Doors • Door hinges • Light fixtures • Mirrors • Plumbing • Plumbing hardware • Stairway banisters • Tile carpeting • Wall paneling • Ornamental wood trim • Clay tiles/bricks • Old-growth timber • Clean, uncontaminated concrete waste • Select copper, aluminum hardware or wire • Concrete rubble, bricks, cinderblock

Here are some materials you can reuse onsite:
• Joist cutoffs can be used as stakes for forming or headers around floor openings.
• Wood scraps can be used as bridging, splicers, wall components, filler, scabs and spacers.
• Rigid insulation can be used as ventilation baffles or installed into home envelopes at joist header assemblies.
• Asphalt: reuse by heating pavement, injecting petroleum distillates, grinding, mixing and rerolling.

Recyclable Materials
As processing and disposal costs rise, many companies are recycling materials from worksites.
• Uncontaminated scrap lumber or pallets can be chipped and used for landscape mulch, compost, animal bedding, fuel or engineered products. Some vendors will even recycle their pallets.
• Glass can be recycled into fiberglass or used in place of sand in paving materials.
• Asphalt shingles can be used in asphalt and road paving and pothole repair.

It is important to sort materials as they are generated to maximize their recyclability and efficient removal from worksites.

Some of the most commonly recycled materials include:
• Iron • Copper • Brass • Steel • Lead piping • Aluminum or copper wiring • Wiring fixtures • Conduit • Glass • Asphalt shingles • Thermal insulation • Floor tiles • Appliances • Uncontaminated lumber or pallets • Gypsum scraps (select locations)

Sustainable Soil Management Practices
Each time you excavate, you alter the landscape in a way that could create erosion issues in the future. Here are some measures you can take to help prevent these these issues with your projects:
• Minimize onsite soil disturbance to reduce impact on surrounding soils.
• Set aside and reuse excavated soils whenever possible.
• Establish a healthy plant cover.
• Design graded surfaces for minimal uncontrolled water runoff.
• Roughen the ground surface with bulldozer tracks by driving up and down the slope. This
creates a set of parallel, closely spaced ridges that follow the land contours to reduce erosion.


Your local Cat® dealer can help you with additional sustainability tips, as well as finding reputable construction waste recycling, resale and donation programs in your area.