Sustainablog Jeff McIntire-Strasburg has been blogging a greener world via sustainablog since 2003!

Sustainablog Jeff McIntire-Strasburg has been blogging a greener world via sustainablog since 2003!

Every collected cans to take to a recycler in exchange for cash? Its one of the first ways many of us earn a little money: the five-year-old who lives across the alley from me always stops me when Im taking out recyclables to ask if I have any money cans. Some take  this a bit further: there was our dorms janitor in college who mustve made a mint off of aluminum cans, and, of course, the thieves who help themselves to easily (or even not-so-easily) available metals from abandoned buildings (or even occupied ones if the price is right). But few of us look at buildings in need of demolition and think Hmmmm Ill bet that place is a gold mine.

It turns out that a sharp-eyed demolitions expert may think just that and his/her first act at a job site may well involve figuring out what not to demolish. but rather salvage for sale.  According to demolition contractor JD Elder. the top five materials that a demolition crew will want to hold onto include

  1. Asphalt Shingles
  2. Reclaimed Wood
  3. Steel
  4. Drywall
  5. Glass and Windows

While Im neither a demolitions or a building salvage expert, a couple of other materials came immediately to mind. So, I started poking around a bit, and, in no time, came across many more materials that could earn a building owner and/or demolisher a little cash on the side and keep them out of the landfill.

Five More Materials You May Want to Salvage from Building Demolition

The EPAs brochure on resource recovery from brownfield sites list all of the materials on Elders list plus quite a few others. If youre in the demolition business, or know someone who is, you might want to check the local market for these materials before that big steel ball starts swinging:

1. Asphalt Paving:  Tearing up a parking lot? Recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) has multiple potential uses in road construction and repair. The University of Wisconsins Recycled Materials Resource Center has a ton of information on this material; AsphaltRecycling.com provides some figures on potential savings/profits.

2. Concrete: Weve discussed urbanite (broken concrete) before, and how hand-builders might want to use it for building foundations. At the commercial level, used concrete has plenty of other uses, including road base, general fill, pavement aggregate, and drainage media. The Construction & Demolition Recycling Association identifies other potential markets for this material.

3. Brick: We St. Louisans already know about this one plenty of used brick dealers here in town, as lots of homeowners want that vintage look (if they dont already have it). Beyond renovation, brick can also be used for a masonry aggregate .

4. Non-Asphalt Shingles: Metal, wood, and slate shingles also have reuses, either through traditional material recycling (metal), grinding into mulch (wood), or reuse as shingles.

5. Architectural salvage: Whether its a vintage chandelier, or less dramatic elements like doors and casing, many architectural elements can find new life in another building. You can likely find a local salvage company that will pay you for your finds.

What else can be saved from building demolition? Share them with us in the comments

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