Waste Reduction

The construction of today’s modern house expends a lot of energy and creates a lot of waste. We’ve worked hard to reduce waste while building the Mill Creek NetZero Home.


Green Door Builders framed the home, and along with building us a very airtight double-walled system, they were extremely conscientious about keeping their waste to a minimum. Here is a picture of 100% of the OSB waste that they created:


(a tiny pile of OSB waste, considering that a 2000+ sq. ft. home was framed with OSB sheathing)

Our LEED inspector was very impressed with this tiny pile.

We stockpiled the burnable wood – that is, the wood that isn’t pressure treated, painted or otherwise tainted – in the back yard all winter. Ironically, this stockpiling is a bit of an eyesore so someone complained to the city about the back yard. Big landfill-bound garbage bins are better looking apparently. So a couple of weeks ago my dad and I cut and stacked the burnable wood (about half of the pile was actually brought from other construction sites):



Thanks for the help dad! This wood will provide a couple of years worth of heat energy for the home (not that we counted that in our NetZero calculations or anything, see here for an explanation).

Reduce, Recycle

Peter Amerongen hates waste. He devised a strategy to cut down or eliminate the wasting of rigid foam insulation cut offs.

Above the master bedroom, there is an area of flat ceiling over which we blew cellulose fibre insulation. Throughout the build, we stockpiled the little pieces of foam insulation that were either product packaging (for the pieces of metal roofing) or the waste from fitting larger pieces of insulation together during installation. We placed the pieces into the section of flat-ceilinged attic before we blew the insulation. The foam provides a slightly higher insulative value than the cellulose would have, and we saved the foam pieces from being land filled!



(insulation was blown over these pieces of foam)

Recycling is the last R, but it’s still a much better step than land filling stuff. We’ve been recycling anything that can go into a blue bag, and we also stockpiled and delivered this load of metal to the local eco station:


Yes, the Tonka truck was a casualty of construction – a big mean beam fell on it, something that my 3-year old was not impressed by.


(blue bags of recyclables)

The building industry has a long way to go to eliminate construction waste. I’d like to someday see all product packaging be convertible into insulation right onsite. In the meantime, innovative, conscientious builders and contractors will hopefully continue to push the envelope on how small the waste stream can become.

(cross posted at raisingspaces.com)

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Thank you for giving me a great re-use for the foam scraps I have in my back yard! I forbade them going into the trash anyway but my attic will love them!
Karen Parent

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