Building a Park Out of Waste

Watch an animation from ASLA’s Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes online exhibition that explains how to reuse building demolition waste to create a beautiful new park. Learn how to maximize available resources and lower greenhouse gas emissions:

Traditional ways of constructing buildings create pollution and waste. Building materials contain vast amounts of embedded energy. According to Architecture 2030, building construction and materials account for 5.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, while exact numbers aren’t available, trucks and cranes transporting and installing materials at construction sites produce considerable amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
(Source: Architecture 2030)

Typically, materials from torn-down buildings and sites are carted off to the landfill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says only 40 percent of building and construction material is now “recycled, reused, or sent to waste-to-energy facilities, while the remaining 60 percent of the materials is sent to landfills.” Many sustainable architects, landscape architects, and construction firms are now moving towards a more sustainable construction process to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. (Source: Environmental Protection Agency)

In a sustainable reconstruction, building materials are reused or recycled, dramatically reducing waste. For example, a new park can be created out of old building materials. Once the materials have been separated, some are kept at the construction site and reprocessed. Reclaimed soils, concrete rubble, glass, wood, and steel can be reused or recycled to serve new functions, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the process. With climate change, any new construction methods that help landscape architects avoid producing additional emissions are a major benefit both to the project and society as a whole. In a sustainable landscape, everything old is made new again.  (Source: Reuse Alliance)

2 thoughts on “Building a Park Out of Waste

  1. Tobiah Horton 03/01/2011 / 9:55 am

    If you’re interested in seeing a project (or portion thereof) built only with materials harvested from the project’s demolition phase, see WRT’s Queens Plaza project, now under construction:


    The project explores the concept of quarrying the city during redevelopment, turning the construction site into a processing facility and installing harvested materials in a manner that evokes a spirit of place in a changing neighborhood.
    Thanks for looking.
    Tobiah Horton, WRTDesign

  2. Stan Gabriel 01/28/2016 / 7:12 am

    An excellent presentation, which unfortunately does nothing but irritate me further. Reusing building waste seems like the simplest idea and in my opinion, has the simplest solution. A regulation by the government, requiring construction companies to use a minimum of 80% of the materials from a demolished site! Being in the building clearance industry, I see tonnes of concrete and glass being sent off to the landfill weekly (which by the way is in no way a cheaper alternative to reusing them). We have yet to this day see our officials take a determined step into limiting corporate waste pollution. ASLA commented on this topic in 2011, and five years later the percentage of building waste reused has increased by a minimal amount.

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