Green Demolition

Stop using the word demolition on drawings and in specs, instead determine what can be done with the materials involved and tell the GC to do it!  Salvage doors for re-use, remove existing masonry for re-use, break up sidewalks and store on site for reuse as fill....

Green Building

Is not synonymous with expensive construction.  Keep in the back of your mind starting with design, what are the  economical green techniques apply to this?    While punching up the wall lines in your presentation drawings, be thinking..... maybe wood,  NW full of it, if I go with punched windows instead of floor to ceiling slits we can use CIC panels ........... and tell the client we can avoid the budgeting  uncertainties with steel prices skyrocketing.  

For the blow by blow photos of the Bathroom Renovations (and New Bathrooms)  (Click Here)

Green Demolition

It's not an oxymoron.  It's just counter intuitive. 

Function, utility, form, and even design may need to take a back seat to maximize Green Demolition.  Which is first and formost, to not demolish anything unless you've exhausted your design skills trying to save it.

To a large extent, your ability to be green is contingent on the GC and the GC hiring or tasking a worker to be aware of what salvage is on site and where in the construction it can be used.

The salvage of materials needs to be integrated in project meetings and construction meetingsagendas should have Green Building Sections and Green Demolition sections.    A new part of the Green Building process necessary to fully utilize salvaged materials will involve the architect sitting down with the construction supervisor(s) and going over the plans and specs page by page, section by section, where what salvaged material can be used and how the GC can most efficently ensure it happens.

Think of it as a Due Diligence for Green Building projects.

In my instance, being architect, GC, and construction worker(s) I am easily ensuring nothing is being thrown out that can be re-used with the exception of some old plaster, which is now being used as fill around a drain tile.  While I'm "just" doing a bathroom renovation or two, so it's small scale test of my green abilities, but it involves every facet of a rehab and most new construction.   By minimizing demolition to begin with I gained additional sound insulation from thick old plaster ceilings, waterproofing for floor from old asbestos floor tile AND no landfill or fuel spent on trucking at the cost of  1 1/2 inches of ceiling height, which was significant with 7 ' 9" ceilings to begin with.  Then again, on the plus side, less volume to heat!

To Be Edited:



Buying made in America.

Buying from in stock items from supply yards within 50 miles (none closer).

Building to last a lifetime, even if "just" a bathroom rehabilitation or two. Solid wood sandwich walls - plywood over 2x4's on edge, plywood laminated ceilings to reinforce and hold in old failing plaster ceiling, concrete bedding under shower and tub, double outside wall to keep shower and tub walls warm, ceramic tile surrounds at shower and tub.

Upside = Supporting US industry, lowering fuel used to transport material, won't need to repair for 20 plus years.

Downside =  Tying future residents into rooms as designed, demolition of the heavily built construction would be very difficult and expensive.



Sandwich walls inspired by:

Similar construction found elsewhere in this organically grown home.  In a section some 90 to 120 years old the walls are solid 1 1/2 inch iron hard old growth planking with plaster on inside and shiplap siding outside - no studs, just corner posts to room. 

Frank Lloyd Wright, who thought sandwich walls would reduce building costs.  I'm unclear if he also thought they'd be vermin free, no free space in them for vermin to live, insect resistant, and fireproof to the extent the inner core will be protected by chared outer facings, but they are all good qualities of the sandwich walls, along with being able to hang a picture anywhere.

Scope of Work


1Inside Work:

Most of the inside work is for a bathroom renovation or two or three and super insulation.

Eco-friendliness is helped alot by being adaptable, flexible, and willing to work "outside the box".   For starters the project has been nearly waste free.  Then the very tight budget has mandated efficent material use and locally sourced (at least from local supply houses) materials and equipment.  Which in some cases has cleared out old stock otherwise destined for the waste dump.


2.  Outside work:

The real work is the GSHP ground loop, which will be a big hole, then not a big hole, no big deal.

However, I'm hoping to get two experimental ground loops in the job too.

The idea is to get some loop installed as part of other work.  Work that is very low level, cheap to hire out, little to no heavy equipment.  Get two for one, open the market for GSHP's.

One is for the pond.  The pond is too small and too shallow, by the rules, but I know some of the rules are a bit extreme, like allowing for 4 to 6 feet of water drop in a drought. The incoming water is never over 50 degrees, and not under a gallon a min.  Will it provide for the whole load, nope, will it help, think so.  I also want to try covering it and insulating it, with a reflecting pool on top.  Easier to clean, less of a drowning hazard, and at 50 degress, no one ever went swimming.

The garden.  I plan to use some foam insulation under pavers I'll line the paths with, to stop all weeds, make a nice level surface for the pavers.  I'm going to raise the beds to 16 inches.  Everything gets dug up and reset, beds, aisles, to suit a new design / spacing.   Between the insulation and higher beds I'm betting if I put some ground loop 18 inches under the paths, it'll do some good.  Only one way to find out.  At the least, I end up with a nice garden.