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 The Division of the State Architect's Sustainable Schools Resource
Materials » Building and Resource Reuse


Building and Resource Reuse

Line-art picture of a work bench with several tools and supplies spread nearby;  picture's caption, 'If the opportunity permits to reuse an already existing building or part of a building, for a construction project, while still enabling sustainable design into the reuse of the structure, then taking advantage of such an opportunity would reduce the amount of virgin materials necessary for the project.'

Reducing the amount of new materials needed for a project can be an effective way to decrease environmental impact caused by a school construction project. If a new school is replacing an existing structure, parts of the existing building structure can potentially be incorporated into the new building. Careful design decisions must be made to create a new building out of the old structure without compromising the building envelope. If this is not possible due to an existing structure's poor orientation or shape, materials from the old structure can be reused. New school can also incorporate reused materials from off site. Commonly salvaged building materials include wood flooring, paneling, cabinets, doors and frames, brick, and masonry. By reusing part of or a large portion of an existing building, a school can maximize the life cycle of existing materials, reduce the demand on virgin resources, and conserve landfill space.

Featured Resources

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
(Best Practices Manual Volume 2, General Conditions Section, Guideline GC2: Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste Management) CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.

C & D Debris Recyclers' Database
A database of facilities that collect specific types of construction and demolition debris for reuse or recycling.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Construction & Demolition (C & D) Materials
EPA's new Construction and Demolition (C & D) Debris page provides information and links to extensive resources and organizations covering the characterization, reduction, reuse, recycling and management of C & D debris.

Green Building Resource Guide - Salvaged Building Products Exchange
The salvaged building products exchange is a searchable database of pre-used building products.

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