Vol. 2 2011 – Recycling in green construction design

American Standard Vitreous China H2Option Dual Flush Toilet

Whether it is old vitreous china toilets, stainless steel fixtures, or simply water, recycling has become increasingly prevalent in today’s green construction industry. As recycling benefits not only the environment but also the bottom-line of a building project, stakeholders are incorporating it within their respective design processes.

Left: American Standard H2Option Dual Flush Toilet. Not only is it environmentally friendly, the vitreous chinaware may be recycled at the end of its lifecycle and turned into cement and asphalt.

Pre-Construction Stage

As with any type of project, the pre-construction stage provides great opportunity to develop a plan for “the perfect building”. This is the time to research green alternatives and processes that are energy efficient, save waterand contain recycled/recyclable content, to further preserve and protect our natural resources. By simply specifying a high-efficient vitreous china toilet or a dual-flush flush valve with your project, you can make all the difference in creating a sustainable design.

BIM in Construction

Technological advances such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) may also be helpful during the preconstruction stage. Argued as being “the answer to sustainable design,” BIM promotes interoperability and is useful with disclosing all the pertinent information of a building’s entire life cycle to all the stakeholders. By being able to forecast a buildings’ ecological footprint, including the recycled and recyclable building components, BIM can help designers weigh their options and specify the best choice for their sustainable design, while meeting building codes and other requirements.

Individual 3D BIM Combination Rendering: A.O. Smith Cyclone Xi Thermal Efficient Commercial Gas Water Heater

Nested 3D BIM Combination Rendering: American Standard Wall Hung Vitreous China and Sloan Uppercut Dual Flush Flush Valve

Left: This rendering features A.O. Smith Cyclone Xi thermal efficient Commercial Gas Water Heater.
Right: This rendering features Amercian Standard Afwall Flowise wall-mounted toilet, Sloan Uppercut WES-111 High Efficiency (Down 1.6 gpf/6.0Lpf, Up 1.1gpf/4.2 Lpf), Centoco toilet seat, and Jay R. Smith MFG. Co. horizontal carrier.

Recycling Throughout Construction

Acorn Engineering Co. Waterless Stainless Steel Urinal

In addition to utilizing BIM to forecast the impact of a building’s design on the environment, many designers have also embraced the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program as implemented by the USGBC. As certification is granted during the construction phase, the inclusion of materials with recycled content, and recycling the waste that is produced at the construction site, could help garner LEED points for the building’s design.

When all is said and done, and “the perfect building” is constructed, it is just as important to follow-up with the building’s design, to ensure that all the available green initiatives were pursued, as it is to implement green design and products in their specifications. For example, in many cases, the importance of properly discarding perfectly reusable materials after its product life-cycle may be just as important as incorporating them into the building’s design in the first place. For example, designers may want to consider incorporating stainless steel plumbing equipment such as Kindred Commercial’s Kitchen sinks and Acorn Engineering’s Combination Fixtures in specifications, as stainless steel is 100% recyclable. By taking the time to assess, understand and design for a specific application, designers can implement “reuse and recycling” methods that will be pleasant, applicable, and easy to maintain.

Above: Acorn Engineering Waterless Urinal (2159). Acorn Engineering Co. uses 80% recycled stainless steel, which after use can be reclaimed and again recycled.

Final Thoughts

Recycling can benefit the bottom line of a construction business, and of course benefit the environment. Whether you are a designer, manufacturer, contractor or builder, in today’s environmentally conscious and competitive world, incorporating green design in specifications is definitely an asset. When assessing your building project’s environmental impact during all stages of its lifecycle, ensure that you evaluate all of the possible options that can provide value to your building’s “Green” corporate governance. Do your part, and consider green initiatives in your specifications!


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