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Home >> News & Events >> How to Estimate Building Materials
How to Estimate Building Materials

Author:EPA  From:  Date:1/6/2014

Construction and demolition (C&D) materials are generated when new structures are built and when existing structures are renovated or demolished (including deconstruction activities).Structures include all residential and nonresidential buildings, as well as public works projects,such as streets and highways, bridges, utility plants, piers, and dams. While definitions on what constitutes C&D materials vary from state to state, C&D materials measured by various parties can include land clearing debris, the vegetation that is removed when a new site is developed.Typical components of C&D materials are shown in Table 1-1.


Table 1-1. Typical components of C&D Materials


Components Content Examples


Wood Forming and framing lumber, stumps/trees, engineered wood Drywall Sheetrock (wallboard) Metals Pipes, rebar, flashing, wiring, framing Plastics Vinyl siding, doors, windows, flooring, pipes, packaging Roofing Asphalt, wood, slate, and tile shingles, roofing felt Masonry Cinder blocks, brick, masonry cement

Glass Windows, mirrors, lights Miscellaneous Carpeting, fixtures, insulation, ceramic tile Cardboard From newly installed items such as appliances and tile

Concrete Foundations, driveways, sidewalks, floors, road surfaces (all

concrete containing portland cement)


Asphalt pavement Sidewalks and road structures made with asphalt binder

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has targeted C&D materials for reduction, reuse, and recovery as part of its Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC). The RCC is a national effort to conserve natural resources and energy by managing materials more efficiently. The goals of the RCC are to prevent pollution and promote reuse and recycling, reduce priority and toxic chemicals in products and waste, and conserve energy and materials. The RCC has identified four national focus areas:

Municipal solid waste recycling Industrial materials recycling, specifically:

o C&D materials reduction, reuse, and recycling

o Coal combustion products

o Foundry sands

Green Initiatives: Green Building and Electronics Priority and toxic chemical reductions1 With respect to C&D materials, EPA has undertaken the following activities in an effort to increase the amount of C&D materials reduced, reused, or recycled: Conduct outreach and education with industry and public-sector partners; and

􀂃 Recognize those with successful reuse or recycling programs; and

􀂃 Participate in green efforts, such as green building programs and green highway programs.


1 More information about the RCC can be found at


1 Furthermore, the recently-issued Executive Order 13423 requires all federal construction,renovation, and demolition projects to achieve a 50% recycling rate where markets or on-site recycling opportunities exist. EPA is committed to helping achieve that recycling rate. One of the important tasks for EPA under the RCC is to track the progress of C&D materials recovery by estimating the amount that is generated and recovered.


The purpose of this study is to determine the amount of building-related C&D materials generated and recovered in the U.S. during 2003, updating the findings of the 1998 EPA report


Characterization of Building-Related Construction and Demolition Debris in the United States


(EPA 530-R-98-010). Limited information is available on the amount of C&D materials generated and managed in the U.S. The methodology used in this report to estimate the amount of building-related C&D materials generated and recovered in the U.S. during 2003 is based on national statistical data and typical waste generation during building construction, renovation, demolition, or maintenance activities. The recovery estimate relies on 2003 data reported by state environmental agencies.Finally, we would note that accurate measurements of C&D generation and recovery are critical in order to measure progress toward achieving increased C&D materials reuse and recycling. However, efforts to improve C&D measurement are currently hampered by a general lack of data. Thus, it should be recognized that the C&D materials estimates presented to date,

including those in this report, have some level of uncertainty, and the results should be viewed in that light. Nevertheless, we believe that the estimates contained in this report reflect and are based on the best data that are currently available.


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