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Construction & Demolition for Contractors

Construction and Demolition (C&D) materials disposed of by contractors and other commercial businesses involved in the construction, demolition and repair of buildings, bridges, roads and other structures contributes to approximately 15% of Vermont’s industrial, commercial, and institutional waste disposal in landfills (2013 Vermont Waste Composition Study). There are many reasons why a reduction in this considerable quantity of waste materials is both good for Vermont and good for your business’s bottom line.

A reduction in the quantity of materials going to our landfills will conserve our limited landfill capacity. Utilization of salvaged materials or the donation or sale of extra materials left over after a job can reduce materials acquisition and disposal costs.  Designing using standard dimensions and the use of a materials calculator can reduce the quantity of left over materials.

When doing demolition, planning the deconstruction carefully can result in salvaged materials that can be reused by others.  The reuse or recycling of construction materials will result in energy savings. The carbon footprint of jobs will be lowered with lower amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG) being produced. The ability to document energy savings factors into LEED and other “green” certification programs for buildings and projects.

NOTE: If a project requires an ACT 250 permit, a Construction Waste Management Plan must be completed and filed.

Waste Prevention Strategies:

Find additional information on our other C&D Pages:

C&D Resources

includes Job Site Case Studies

C&D for Residents

C&D main page

Find local ordinances and resources by contacting your local solid waste management entity.

Landfill Disposal Bans

Some C&D materials are banned, or will be banned, from landfill disposal.  Clean wood will be banned from landfill disposal by July 1, 2016 as part of Vermont's new solid waste law, Universal Recycling (Act 148) which was enacted into law in June 2012. Clean wood includes trees, untreated wood, and other natural wood debris such as tree stumps, brush and limbs, root mats and logs. See the link below for more information on Universal Recycling.

Universal Recycling

Universal Recycling (Act 148) bans clean wood from landfill disposal by July 1, 2016. Universal Recycling bans recyclables, food scraps and residuals, leaf and yard debris, and clean wood from landfill disposal on a phased time line, with full implementation in effect by July 1, 2020. This is in addition to existing landfill bans in effect in Vermont, which include materials such as asbestos waste, paint, smoke detectors, and mercury-containing bulbs and products.

Vermont Landfill Bans (PDF)

Several items are banned from landfill disposal in Vermont, including asbestos waste and paint.


Waste Prevention Strategies

Salvaged and Used Materials

Consider utilizing used or salvaged materials. Most used building materials can be installed provided they do not act as structural components or otherwise compromise safety. Materials purchased at salvaged yards cost 10-50 percent of the cost of new materials.   Select materials with a high potential for reuse and recycling. Choose non-toxic materials with recycled content. "Green" materials have a lower embodied energy content, are more environmentally friendly in the production process, and are easier to dispose of in sustainable ways. 

Depending on the quantities required, it is possible to obtain new lumber, plywood, sheetrock, tiles, etc. that were excess materials from someone else’s project.  This is useful if building codes require that only new lumber be utilized for structural members. If lumber is not required to be new, there are often significant quantities of used lumber available, some of which may be of a quality no longer available for sale new such as “old growth” fir.

Many items, including doors, windows, trim, flooring, shutters, counter tops and more, are available used, especially for small jobs. Keep in mind energy efficiency when considering used windows and exterior doors; purchasing these new may result in significant energy savings that are of greater value then the ability to reuse salvaged items.

Architectural salvage can be a source of period trims, fixtures, mantles, interior doors and knobs, hardwood flooring and other antique items salvaged from buildings undergoing deconstruction.

Donating excess materials after the completion of a job eliminates waste and allows for others to utilize these materials. There are a number of businesses in Vermont that take excess materials and provide them for sale. Some utilize the materials in construction and renovation projects for low-income households. Larger quantities can be sold on sites such as Craigslist or locally through ads. See the C&D Resources page for more options.

Depending on the area of the state your business or jobsite is located in, there are additional services available, such as the recycling of asphalt and sheetrock. Check with the local solid waste management entity to determine which services are available to you. Architectural salvage companies can also be located online or in the phone book.



Planning Demolition for Reuse of Materials

The term “demolition” brings to mind the wrecking of a structure or part of one, often utilizing a “wrecking ball” or other heavy machinery. While fast, this sort of demolition generally damages the building materials such that beneficial reuse is often not possible. Utilizing deconstruction methods for all or part of the project allows for the recovery and recycling or reuse of many of the building’s component parts. 

When deconstruction occurs, many useful materials, such as wood framing members, trim, windows and doors, appliances and architectural elements, are salvaged for reuse. Items such as asphalt, concrete, gypsum and others can be salvaged for recycling. To facilitate salvage and recycling of materials, source separation should occur at the building site. The use of clearly labeled bins, as well as adequate instruction of the work crews, is recommended in order to maximize beneficial reuse and minimize contamination. Integrate these strategies into the Waste Reduction Plan.

By utilizing deconstruction and maximizing the amount of materials that will be recycled or reused, you will decrease the “carbon footprint” of the building project. Conserving as much of the “embodied energy” as possible in the building materials and components removed reduces the energy needed for the manufacture of new building materials. Many building project specs now require that deconstruction be practiced.  Knowledgeable and “green” clients will want to know that they are minimizing their environmental impact by optimizing opportunities for reuse and recycling.


Design Using Standard Dimensions

By using standard dimensions in the design and construction of your project, you will minimize the waste of materials and the quantities of unusable pieces. Sticking to designs for walls, floors and roofs that utilize the 2-foot increments that standard dimensional lumber comes in will minimize waste. Utilizing the dimensions of standard sized panels for gypsum, OSB, plywood and other materials will serve to reduce leftover materials not easily usable for other projects. As well as saving on handling costs for recycling scraps, there should be project savings as well, as more of the project costs will be used in the building’s structure as opposed to landing in the recycle bin!

You can further reduce framing waste by utilizing techniques such as increasing the spacing of joists and studs, and in-line framing.

And it goes without saying, don’t forget to “measure twice, cut once”!

Use Material Calculators

One of the surest ways to save money and minimize waste is to order the correct amount of materials to complete the project. An easy tool to assist in this is to utilize a “materials calculator”. These online tools will quickly calculate everything from sheetrock and drywall screws to flooring, tiles, carpeting, paint, framing lumber, roofing and other building materials. Simply input your project dimensions into it and you will know how much materials your project will require. There are a number of materials calculators available, from ones on websites connected to major home improvement stores to apps for your phone. While they differ in which materials they will help you calculate, they all essentially provide the same service; helping you figure out just how much materials you actually need to purchase for a given project. Materials as varied as drywall, rafter runs, paint, wallpaper, tile, concrete and even landscaping products can be calculated using these programs. Some quantities obviously depend on thickness of coverage (paint) and other variables.

Waste Reduction Plan

Waste reduction plans are typically used for larger projects, but considering the elements of the plan will be beneficial regardless of the project size. 

Review Job Site Case Studies on the C&D Resources page.

To be the most effective, keep your plan simple, involve essential personnel in developing the plan, and specify the methods to separate, store, and collect materials. Make it as convenient as disposal, and protect materials from the elements and other damage. The main thing is to have it in writing, so the expectations are clear.


If you are working with subcontractors, it is important to specify waste management and prevention goals in contracts and agreements. This assures that the expectations and procedures are communicated clearly to everyone. The following is an example specification in a subcontractor agreement:

"The subcontractor will make a good faith effort to reduce the amount of waste generated on the jobsite and recycle material as per the contractor's Waste Reduction Plan. The subcontractor will follow the designated handling procedures for each type of waste generated onsite and provide documentation to verify material reuse, recycling, and disposal as indicated in the Waste Reduction Plan."

Put your Waste Reduction Plan into Motion

No matter what type of project you are planning; new construction, remodeling or deconstruction, certain planning considerations will always apply. First check with your local solid waste management entity about requirements and assistance programs.  



1. Identify the types of waste and estimate the amounts of waste your project will generate.

2. Check out local salvage and recycling markets for each waste material your project will generate, determine how to reuse the material on site, or plan to give away discarded materials.

3. Determine the sorting and handling methods for each material and include in your plan.

4. Determine the locations for sorting reusable and recyclable wastes and identify them clearly.

5. Establish a defined area for the operations of each trade. For example, store your off-cuts from wood cutting in one area so they can be sorted by dimension for future reuse.

6. Maximize the reuse of materials back into the job, by construction crews, salvage businesses, or used building materials stores.

7. Determine who will manage the program. Select a manager who has an interest in salvage and recycling. This person will be responsible for tracking waste reused and recycled, making sure staff and contractors do not put any trash in the collection bins, insuring the bins are emptied as needed, and keeping staff updated on progress and problems with the program.

8. Educate crews and subcontractors about the plan and post it in visible locations - such as at recycling sites and in construction project offices. Ensure that they understand your plan and will agree to comply with it. On large projects or projects you are unfamiliar with the subcontractors, you can require compliance with the plan in your contract.

9. Incorporate education about the plan into the agendas of regularly scheduled meetings such as project safety meetings.

10. Include everyone in the process. Encourage suggestions on more efficient methods or on adding materials that can be salvaged or recycled.

11. Offer incentives for employee commitment to your Plan

12. Include requirements for waste prevention, reuse and recycling in all bid documents and subcontracts


Hauling Options for your waste management program

Hauling Service -- Ask your hauler what recycling options they provide and the fee they charge for each option. For example, a hauler may accept recyclable materials that are commingled at the same fee as disposal, but they may charge a lower fee for source-separated recyclable materials. While labor costs for separating recycled materials may be high at the onset of a project, this will decrease over time as crews become familiar with waste reduction practices.

While haulers may provide salvage and recycling alternatives if requested, they may not suggest them, so ask!

Self Haul -- The builder handlers all phases of waste management, often the case on a smaller remodeling job. The costs depend on labor, vehicle costs, and the tipping fees charged.

Reducing contamination is the key to successful recycling. Ensure that your idea of a "clean" load is the same as your recyclers.



Department of Environmental Conservation

Waste Management & Prevention Division, Solid Waste Program

1 National Life Drive, Davis 1, Montpelier, VT 05620-3704

(802) 828-1138



Last updated:
VT DEC Waste Management & Prevention Division 1 National Life Drive - Davis 1  Montpelier, VT  05620-3704  Tele: 802-828-1138  Fax: 802-828-1011

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