Normal building terminology for taking out an old building structure is called “demolition.” When you want to redo your brownstone’s bathroom you have to first do a demolition of the existing bathroom.

But as a green contractor in Brooklyn we don’t demolish anything. The term demolish does not exist in green building.

We deconstruct.

Deconstruction acknowledges the fact that it was constructed in the first place. We are not demolishing that valuable work and materials. We don’t destroy, we simply undo the elements in their current form.

That way we can take those materials and redo them somewhere else or in another form.

This is a much more efficient way of doing things in the long run. In the short run it does take longer. But according to my calculations it still saves money, among many other things.

For example it might take a laborer 20 minutes to demolish a wall. At $10/hour that is about $3 in labor cost.

It might take them one hour to deconstruct it. That is $10 in labor cost. But the salvaged materials are ten studs, six sheets of sheet rock and 40 screws that are in good enough condition to be reused elsewhere. Materials cost saved: $60 not including the money saved in dumpster fees.

What just happened? The worker made more money (keep the money local), resources were saved, the landfill was spared, and our company and our clients saved money.

It looks so simple. But people don’t do it (yet). Why? I think it is because they are caught up in the rat race where they think time is money. Intelligence is money. Time is infinite (whatever that means).

About the author: Gennaro Brooks-Church

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  1. nick - March 26, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    great post, kudos on the price breakdown….
    deconstruction is the basic tenet that has to be at the core of any deep change in our collective consumerist lifestyle. odds are we\’re not going to stop consuming, so achieving increases in deconstruction efficiency, whether at a biomimetic nanoscale (containers that can be composted?) or at a larger scale where something is engineered to be truly reused (car components? building assemblies?) has to be key…
    check out william mcdonough if you havent already, he has the deconstruction/reuse concept boiled down to the formula waste=food:

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