Sustainable building and material management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the United States annually generates more than twice the amount of construction and demolition (C&D) debris than municipal solid waste (MSW). As a result, building and material design and management present a significant opportunity to reduce environmental impacts across Minnesota. 

Waste prevention and reuse strategies that prioritize extending the life of existing structures and materials, not only reduce the amount of waste generated, but also help achieve substantial greenhouse gas emissions savings. Recycling, when virgin materials are displaced by recycling existing materials, is also an important factor in improving the sustainability of the state's building sector.

The MPCA's Sustainable Building and Material Management program aims to focus resources and efforts on strategies that consider the broader climate impacts of buildings, not just end-of-life management.

Questions about sustainable building and material management? Contact Annika Bergen: annika.bergen@state.mn.us

Reports

Work groups

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) formed two groups to work on improving the current construction and demolition system:

  • The Rule Advisory Panel will address permitting C&D landfills and improved environmental protections. The MPCA plans to amend existing Minnesota rules governing C&D landfills (chapters 7001 and 7035) as proposed in an October 2018 request for comments initiating rulemaking. At this point the MPCA has no draft language for the rule.
  • The Sustainable Building Group will recommend ways to reduce the environmental impacts of materials as well as how the new system will work financially.

Recommendations

Following a yearlong stakeholder process, the Sustainable Building Group recommended five solutions for reducing the environmental impacts of Minnesota’s building system. Development and implementation of these recommendations requires the support and statewide involvement of numerous partners.

Deconstruction training. Establish a statewide, state-funded deconstruction training program that accompanies deconstruction and demolition licensing.

Incentive for building preservation. Create a statewide grant program for building preservation projects.

Deconstruction ordinance templates. Create three tiers of deconstruction ordinance templates that cities/counties can select from and adopt.  

Diversion requirement for C&D waste. Implement a statewide diversion requirement for C&D waste for new construction, additions, renovations, and building removal.

Incentive for reused building materials. Create a statewide rebate program for reused building materials in new building construction and renovation projects.