I recently completed my Bay Friendly Landscape Professional Qualification (more on the details of this in a separate post) and have been thinking about waste and how it relates to my craftsmanship.
Current waste statistics are important background to my contemplation. There is approximately 100,000 tons of green waste per year entering landfills in Alameda County alone. Stopwaste.org further estimates that 355,000 tons of construction debris and demolition material are unnecessarily entering the landfill each year in Alameda County. Elsewhere around the country, the trends are similar. Even with greenwaste landfill bans such as Alameda County put in place in 2010 and despite large scale recycling programs for construction concrete, asphalt, wood and metals; heavy volumes of waste from building sites continue.
We at Ian Moore Design control our contribution to this waste stream as much as feasible.
There is a frequent dialog on my construction job sites coinciding with each major phase of work. Is this enough? Of this, of that? Construction crews working with me ask this because there is a large potential risk in wasted time and lost productive hours if an order is too small, be it framing lumber, decking material, mulch, plants, or any other consumables. No one wants to make a store run because someone else skimped and cut the calculations too tight.
I continue make tight calculations for many reasons. First and foremost, I don’t like waste – it has something to do with growing up in a Northern New England resource economy where every tool was pushed to its absolute limits and not much was thrown away. I also have more than enough training in the environmental sciences and economics to know that waste has many negative consequences. Second, I know that waste costs me and my clients money. Construction in the Bay Area is expensive, no matter what. I would rather spend the time and money up front to ensure sure I order the right quantities and dimensions that fit our layouts best; rather than spend time later coordinating with a debris hauler and paying high disposal fees. Even well preserved reusable or returnable leftovers have costs. It is best in all cases to minimize what is left at the end of the construction period.
I was not sure if clients noticed or cared and then last week I had a wonderful conversation with a client about how happy he was to see theminimal waste stream associated with his project.
The realization that I have come to is this. The prevalence of cheap manufactured construction materials, relatively low cost of disposal and overall acceptance of waste in American society is a significant factor in the deterioration of craftsmanship in the construction trades. Today the widespread resurgent interest in American made craftsmanship necessarily needs to include low waste throughout the construction process.
Craftsmanship is doing what you love and doing it right and wasting as little as possible.
Along with my Bay Friendly Landscape Professional Qualification, I am happy to say that I can apply these low waste principles to all of my projects.