The scope of analysis for the paper was developed based upon the following waste management hierarchy, in order of preference: reduce/minimize waste generation; reuse waste materials for their original intended purpose; recycle waste materials for other use; dispose of remaining materials.
The construction industry, and particularly design, construction, demolition, upgrade and maintenance of structures have a tremendous impact on environment and natural resources. The resulting waste materials, their volume minimisation and their reuse or recycling have been of concern to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other legislating bodies for some time now. The demolition of existing structures and the construction of new ones to meet the needs of a growing nation generate an enormous amount of debris, some of it even hazardous in nature. Disposing of construction and demolition debris in landfills consumes enormous amounts of difficult to develop space and is both economically and environmentally costly. The challenge has been, as more and more engineers and architects realise, to design and build buildings in a smart way, so they use a minimum of non-renewable energy, produce a minimum of pollution, and cost a minimum of energy money to operate, while maximising the comfort, health, and safety of the people who live and work in them.
The consumption of construction materials, energy, and water as well as the increased land use for buildings and infrastructure, represent a potential impact on the environment. Environmental damages caused by the depletion of natural resources and the increase of waste have left the experimentation with alternative strategies for waste minimisation plans (WMP) such as reducing, reusing, and recycling. This offers the opportunity to safeguard the environment and to achieve monetary savings when managing construction waste in a proper manner. However, construction management often fails to identify or to address waste in the construction process. Generally, waste is not properly recognised due to the absence of appropriate tools for measuring waste or value (Coventry and Woolveridge, 1999). Reducing construction waste involves an integrated process of designing and constructing new buildings, while making efficient use of materials.
The minimisation of the production waste, the efficient use of materials and the recycling of waste are another way of conserving the environment and forms part of the principles of sustainable development. The continuous awareness of the environmental issues put increasing pressure on construction industry to improve its environmental standards. Government legislation is becoming increasingly stringent and the general public demonstrates increasing intolerance and concern for environmentally unsound construction practice; all these make it impossible for the construction industry to ignore the environmental