The name Existing Resources came about when I was explaining what sustainable construction was to a friend. Trying to liken it to something he would already understand, I said “You have natural resources and then you have existing resources” and immediately I knew what to call my business.
To me, sustainable construction begins with existing resources. If you have an existing building and need to improve or modify it there are a few questions that need to be answered first. What are you starting with, where do you want to end up, and how can that best be done with the least amount of environmental impact and waste?
Even if your building must be totally demolished there are still ways to do that sustainably. Inventorying for re-use, re-purpose, or recycling keeps that material out of the waste stream. By planned deconstruction rather than random demolition, many portions of a building will continue to serve a useful purpose long after the original building is gone. Some communities have special arrangements for construction waste where they will separate it for the contractor who can bring it in as mixed construction waste and up to 90% or more is successfully recycled.
With careful planning and attention to detail, your project can mine the wealth of existing resources that you already have with a lower impact on the environment. That’s what I call sustainable construction!