The Cook County, Ill., Board of Commissioners recently passed an ordinance that targets the recycling of construction and demolition debris.
The Demolition Debris Diversion ordinance passed by the Board requires demolition contractors working in suburban and unincorporated Cook County to recycle 70 percent of their debris for all demolition projects. Residential properties must show 5 percent is being diverted for reuse. Only sheds and garages are excluded.
The ordinance, which goes into effect November 21, 2012, is part of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s Sustainability Initiative, launched at the start of her administration with the goals of reducing energy consumption, decreasing pollution, and creating livable and sustainable communities. According to a release, the new ordinance moves the county closer to achieving the zero waste goal set forth in the board-approved Solid Waste Plan Update.
“Recycling demolition is another important step toward building a greener Cook County,” says Preckwinkle. “The benefits go beyond positive environmental impacts. This also creates jobs, stabilizes local economies and creates materials for construction, renovation and infrastructure building.”
Debra Stone, director of Cook County’s Department of Environmental Control, notes that recycling five percent of the demolition debris from about 30 houses could support at least one new retail center, with up to five jobs and 30 full-time deconstruction workers.
The ordinance is directly enforceable since Environmental Control issues demolition permits for all buildings within suburban Cook County.
The City of Chicago already requires the recycling of demolition materials. And, while contractors at present salvage a significant percentage of materials from demolition sites, the reuse requirement is groundbreaking in the region. Reusing materials reduces the demand for new products made from virgin materials and saves 95 percent of the “stored energy” that already went into manufacturing the product, according to Stone.
“There’s been a significant market growth for deconstructed materials,” Stone says, with customers ranging from contractors, to multi-family building owners to homeowners on a budget.
“We know that greater public awareness will make reuse become more mainstream, as building owners learn of options.”
Over the next few months, the Department of Environmental Control will be working with business partners and industry groups to educate contractors and building owners about the requirements of the new ordinance, along with the many benefits.