The U.S. generates more than twice the amount of construction and demolition debris than municipal solid waste, according to U.S. EPA estimates. Such a large amount of material presents a big opportunity for reducing waste and its environmental effects. Extending the life of existing structures and reusing building materials rather than producing new reduces both waste and greenhouse gas emissions. When reuse isn't possible, recycling is an important alternative for reducing waste and environmental impacts when it replaces virgin materials. Learn more:
The MPCA convened a group of stakeholders to develop recommendations for reducing the environmental impacts of building construction and demolition in Minnesota. The group prioritized strategies that extend the useful life of existing buildings and materials.
The group's recommendations included:
- Establish a state training program to teach deconstruction skills that help preserve reusable building materials.
- Incentivize the preservation of existing buildings
- Draft model ordinances to help local governments implement deconstruction and material-diversion requirements
- Create a rebate program to encourage use of reusable building materials
Construction and demolition landfills
Many Minnesota landfills that accept construction and demolition debris were constructed at a time when they didn't require linings. But moisture and stormwater that percolate through debris (leachate) in unlined landfills can carry pollutants from the waste into the surrounding soil and contaminate groundwater. MPCA monitoring shows that groundwater near unlined demolition landfills in Minnesota is contaminated:
The MPCA plans to amend existing Minnesota rules to address the effect of unlined construction and demolition debris landfills on groundwater.