Salvaged Materials

  • Salvaged materials have a small fraction of the embodied carbon of new materials, since the extraction and production phases do not contribute to CO2e emissions. Only emissions associated with transportation and any refabrication need be considered.
  • One way to obtain salvaged materials is to “deconstruct” an existing building. Deconstruction is a demolition method whereby a structure is carefully disassembled with an eye towards salvaging as many components as possible.
  • When using salvaged materials, it is helpful to know where the materials came from. Knowing the era and location of the building can provide clues as to the structural properties of the material. In the best of cases, original construction documents might be available which explicitly state the required design properties.
  • Structural materials with good salvage potential include: brick, steel, precast concrete, and wood. Brick and wood timbers are already frequently salvaged for specialty applications. Steel framing, precast concrete, and dimension lumber are rarely salvaged. For more information see the ASCE Technical Report Sustainability Guidelines for the Structural Engineer.
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