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U.S. EPA, Partners Kick Off Green Building Design Challenge

The US Environmental Protection Agency and partners are calling on the nation's architects, builders and others to participate in a competition seeking designs that facilitate reuse and minimize waste.

The "Lifecycle Building Challenge" - co-sponsored by the Building Materials Reuse Association, the American Institute of Architects and West Coast Green - invites professionals and students nationwide to submit designs and ideas by May 15 that support cost-effective disassembly and anticipate the future use of building materials. Students, architects, reuse experts, engineers, builders, product designers, educators and environmental advocates are encouraged to apply for the web-based competition.

The challenge, open to built and un-built work, has three main categories:
  • Building-an entire building from foundation to roof
  • Component-a single building assembly, system, or connector
  • Service-a tool, method, or other idea
Outstanding entries in each category will be recognized and publicized, and top student designs will receive cash awards. All winners will be honored at the West Coast Green Conference in San Francisco in September. For more information or to enter the competition, visit

Lifecycle building maximizes material recovery to reverse the trend of disposing of large quantities of construction and demolition debris in landfills. Reusing building components also reduces the energy and greenhouse gases emissions associated with producing and transporting materials.

In the United States, buildings consume 60 percent of total materials flow (excluding food and fuel) and account for 33 percent of the solid waste stream. Building renovation and demolition accounts for 91 percent of the construction and demolition debris generated each year, while new construction accounts for only 9 percent. Between 2000 to 2030, 27 percent of existing buildings will be replaced and 50 percent of the total building stock will be constructed.

These issues can be addressed by planning for a building or building component's eventual deconstruction or adaptation. By creating building components that can be easily recovered and reused, materials are kept at their highest value, resulting in reduced consumption of energy and resources.

"Lifecycle building innovations are about improving the efficiency of our resource utilization and heading towards a more sustainable environment." said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco. "This challenge raises the standard for both green building and environmental protection."

The challenge will be officially launched Jan.22 and open for four months. At the end of the competition, expert judges will determine the best entries in each category.

The challenge grew out of a project by the Chartwell School in Seaside, Calif. the EPA helped fund that demonstrates lifecycle building concepts. The school tested new systems including nail free paneling, centralized utility raceways, structural insulated panel roofing, and cold joint sidewalks that can be easily moved for reuse. Results from Chartwell's case study are available on the challenge's Website.

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