An earlier blog post featured Vancity member Unbuilders, and the role they play in saving valuable wood and other construction materials from being sent to landfill or incinerated. We continue on that theme here, with the impact of construction waste, The Rebuild Hub, and how Vancity is supporting a more “circular” approach.
Normally, when a house is torn down, it is demolished as quickly as possible and most materials are taken to a landfill or incinerated. Across Canada, four million tonnes of construction waste end up in landfills every year. In Metro Vancouver, approximately 3,000 houses are demolished annually; while 95% of the materials in those houses could be recycled or re-used, the vast majority are discarded. Demolition has a climate impact too, as some of that waste contributes to carbon emissions from the landfill, and natural resources are used to manufacture and transport new materials to build a new house in place of the old one.
When a home is deconstructed, rather than demolished, it is taken apart systematically to save lumber, windows, doors, cabinets, fittings, and other components for reuse. Deconstruction keeps at least 80% of building materials out of the landfill, and the re-used materials in turn reduce the carbon footprint of the next building they’re used to construct. In addition to the environmental benefits, a transition from demolition to deconstruction would create approximately 13,300 jobs in the Lower Mainland, and 74,000 nationally.
The Rebuild Hub is making deconstruction easier in the Lower Mainland by connecting those recovered materials with buyers from the construction industry and the general public. A project of Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver, The Rebuild Hub accepts donations of materials from deconstruction, sells them, and uses all proceeds from those sales toward Habitat for Humanity’s affordable housing projects. Homeowners are offered a tax receipt for their donation, which helps offset the cost of deconstruction. By choosing deconstruction and The Rebuild Hub, homeowners are reducing the environmental impact of renovating or building a new house, while also supporting low- and middle-income families to access safe and affordable housing.
Vancity is encouraging members to choose deconstruction through our Planet-Wise Teardown Financing, which offers a preferred interest rate on loans for deconstruction as part of a home renovation or new build. Teardown Financing can be paired with a Planet-Wise Renovation Loan for upgrades that improve a home’s energy efficiency and/or reduce its carbon footprint.
Together, The Rebuild Hub and Unbuilders are forming key pieces of a circular economy in home construction, one in which resources and materials are recovered and re-used, and waste is designed out of the system. They are enabling lighter living practices that move us all toward living well and fairly within our ecological means.
Vancity is proud to be supporting these community partners through our enviroFund program.