November 15, 2023Reading Time: 2 minutes
by Bruce Turner, AIA, of the AIA NJ Committee on the Environment
November 15, 2023, is America Recycles Day®, a Keep America Beautiful national initiative. While the focus of the KAB organization is on consumers, we architects can also make a significant contribution to controlling solid waste. The NIH National Library of Medicine indicates that:
“the construction industry is responsible for utilizing a large portion of natural resources (32%). Although this value is less than the amount of natural resources used in the 1990s (~40%), it is estimated that more than 75% of waste generated by the construction industry has a residual value and is not currently reused nor recycled…And, although different definitions have been proposed for Construction and Demolition wastes (C&D wastes), such waste is essentially anything that is produced during the construction, renovation or demolition process that is no longer viable for use. In most circumstances, such waste is discarded to landfill. And, according to this definition, C&D waste resulting from the construction sector accounts for 30% of total waste produced globally, with an estimated average of more than 35% of all C&D waste disposed in landfills annually.” 
To help address this, AIA published a Materials Pledge Starter Guide which says, among other things:
“Historically, architects haven’t asked what goes into creating building materials. We used to focus on aesthetics, performance, and durability. But in the past decade, there’s been a shift to thinking more holistically about sustainable design and how materials play a crucial role. Today, we’re collaborating with clients to design and construct with better building materials—ones that support human health, climate health, social health + equity, ecosystem health, and a circular economy.”
Source: NIH – National Library of Medicine Website (see above).
And, we should not forget the words coined by 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA:
“The greenest building…is the one that is already built.”
By Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, AIA NJ Advocacy Consultant | Posted in Environment | Tagged: #AIA, #AIAArchitects, #aiamaterialspledge, #AIANational, #americarecyclesday, #BruceTurnerAIA, #CarlElefanteFAIA, #COTE, #kab, #nih, #recycling, AIANJCOTE | Comments (0)
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