Take It Back
Courtesy: Vibes from Deep Inside
If you haven’t heard about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), get ready.
Increasingly, sustainable solutions are focusing on end-of-life opportunities to reduce waste, recover material, and alleviate landfills. EPR, or product stewardship, does this through political means, by legislating requirements that urge or force manufacturers to bear the burden of recovery. The idea is to hold the makers of things accountable for the impact of things once they outlive practical use—that is, to shift the responsibility away from communities and taxpayers. Of course, manufacturers typically increase their prices to cover additional costs, so ultimately consumers carry the weight.
Long required in many other countries, EPR suddenly has become a hot topic of debate here at home. To date, about two-thirds of the 50 states have product-specific EPR laws, and, as The Economist reported earlier this year, Maine became the first U.S. state to enact a blanket EPR rule that in theory could apply to any product type, including building materials. Already, there are many active or pending laws requiring carpet to be recycled.
What this means is that soon architects could feel more and more pressure to design buildings that can come apart easily. Typical demolition requires sorting, stripping, and shredding, which are inefficient and lead to raw matter not easily divided into discrete products and components. Design for Disassembly (DfD) plans for easier deconstruction by using alternative fastening methods and avoiding bonded materials.
DfD got the glamour treatment in KieranTimberlake’s Cellophane House at MoMA in 2008, but my favorite guide is still Brad Guy and Nicholas Ciarimboli’s DfD: Design for Disassembly in the Built Environment.