The economic benefits of deconstruction are substantial. One of the biggest challenges to “greening” businesses is overcoming the false perception that environmentally-sound business practices necessarily will increase costs and decrease profits. Deconstruction is helping break that myth. Companies that have participated in ILSR’s projects confirm that:
- Deconstruction is cost-effective. Not only can buildings be deconstructed more cheaply than they can be demolished, but deconstruction provides construction companies with low-cost materials for reuse in their own building projects.
- Deconstruction is an ideal training ground for the construction trades. In showing workers how to take a building apart, they learn how it’s put together. And, of course, they learn crucial safety, math, and tool/equipment handling skills. Trained workers are then ready for immediate entry into the workforce, helping meet the C&D industry’s highly publicized demand for skilled, trained workers.
- Because funding often is available to cover training costs, industry training costs are reduced, the “learning curve” is almost eliminated, and new employees become income generators.
- Deconstruction is increasingly in demand in government projects. In some instances, it helps agencies meet requirements that projects include community development components. This was a driving force behind the issuance of new HOPE VI guidelines specifically requesting the inclusion of deconstruction in proposals. In other cases, deconstruction is seen as a means of reducing waste generation and disposal, and therefore meeting environmental mandates. This has prompted the Department of Defense to promote deconstruction, rather than demolition, of military bases. Thus, integrating deconstruction into their corporate menu allows C&D companies to access contracts that might otherwise be unavailable to them, particularly via the HOPE VI program.
With such built-in economic incentives, construction and demolition companies are willing – indeed, anxious – to participate in a program that has tremendous environmental potential.
ILSR’s data shows that this burgeoning industry could create as many as 200,000 full-time equivalent jobs each year. Further, because deconstruction is easily integrated into public housing and urban revitalization programs (for which millions in federal funding is available), trainees frequently are drawn from the community’s lowest-income populations. Because the Laborer’s International Union enthusiastically supports and participates in the program, our trainees are able to enter union apprenticeship programs in high-wage, full-time, permanent jobs. In just two years, ILSR’s Deconstruction Initiative has placed more than 70 workers in full-time jobs, nearly half in union apprenticeship programs. Eighteen of our trainees now are part-owners of deconstruction enterprises, and many more have pursued additional training (e.g., lead and asbestos abatement, housing renovation) and become supervisors and trainers within the industry.