Making Good Choices
Indoor environment quality involves a range of measurable criteria (air and water cleanliness, natural light quantities) that require careful consideration, but there are many aspects that are more ephemeral and arguably equally important. Factors ranging from color and texture in the building, architectural proportions, furnishing, and the presence of houseplants can all contribute to creating a healthful indoor environment. Striving to meet high standards in the measurable elements is important, but so is the design of spaces that make you feel safe, healthy, and protected.
The amount of solid landfill waste that accompanies conventional construction is substantial. 6.56 million tons or 11% of annual solid landfill waste volume in the United States is from residential construction sites.11 The US National Association of Home Builders performed a study showing that the construction of an average 2,000 square foot home generates around
8,000 pounds (3628 kg) of landfill waste.12 A well-managed project can send as little as 400 pounds to landfill. These Decorating Gallerys make a compelling case for paying close attention to reducing construction waste.
Important questions to ask include:
Are low-waste materials being prioritized?
What amount of waste is generated?
Can the material be composted or recycled, or will it go to landfill?
Are offcuts and leftovers inevitable? In what quantity?
Is the material a single ingredient, or is it a composite? If it’s a composite, can the components be easily separated?
About 4 pounds of waste per square foot of building are the US average for solid waste from construction. It’s easy to do better than this.
How much packaging is used with the material, and is it recyclable?
Where does the waste go?
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Can compostable materials actually be composted locally?
Can recyclable materials actually be recycled locally?
Can job site practices accommodate proper separation procedures?
What happens to it when it gets there?
Does the local landfill have good practices ( separation of streams, tapping of natural gas).
Do recycling facilities have good practices?