Building demolition experts use their knowledge of construction, engineering
and explosives to safely bring down buildings and other structures. But blowing
things up is only part of the job. These experts also dispose of demolished
buildings in ways that do as little harm as possible to the environment.
While there are only a few hundred such experts across North America, industry
groups say increased environmental awareness and concerns about preserving
old buildings will open up new opportunities over the next five years.
Corrine Fulton, who owns a demolition company, compares environmental demolition
to household recycling. In a few years, she hopes, it will become the standard.
"I think deconstruction demolition is where the blue box was 10 years ago.
People are just starting to tweak into it. They're just starting to recognize
that some of the products, like the lumber, [are] just not available anymore."
The most exciting demolition process is an implosion -- a series of blasts
timed carefully so that the building collapses in on itself like a deck of
cards, rather than shooting out in all directions. Demolition experts use
as little explosive power as possible to get the job done. That cuts down
on the amount of dust and debris flying through the air.
But few demolitions involve spectacular explosions or implosions. The most
common methods of demolition today are good old-fashioned wrecking balls,
backhoes, front-end loaders and dump trucks.
But ripping and tearing isn't the only way to get rid of a building. The
growing trend is deconstruction, which involves carefully taking apart a building
one piece at a time. Often, the wood and other materials are salvaged and
sent to recycling companies. No matter how old or abandoned a building is,
its parts could be used to construct something entirely new.
Fulton's specialty and passion is recycling and reusing. There is a lot,
she says, that we waste by exploding buildings, or taking materials to the
"Some of this timber that people have been smashing and throwing into the
landfill for years -- it's just not available anymore," she says. The ultimate
goal, she explains, is to not tear down buildings at all. "The ultimate of
user-friendliness is to take the entire building and use it in its entirety."
A safe and successful demolition project requires a working knowledge of
both construction and the law. Most communities require demolition permits,
and any project involving explosives will be scrutinized by local authorities.