Why 32% Less Waste Matters

What we probably don’t consider is one of the largest sources of waste generation for landfills across the country is construction waste. Figures developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates nearly 40% (or 88 million tons) of the nation’s landfill waste comes from home construction materials. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center, a standard new building project produces an average of 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot. To put that in perspective, a traditionally site built 2,000 square foot home will produce 7,800 pounds of waste.

The part of this that is never explained to home owners is the environmental impact and the costs they pay as a result. To use a simple example, the home owner pays for a 2×4, and then they pay to throw away the cut piece they already paid for.

This example extends to every item and product purchased by home owners for traditional site built homes. Some of the biggest waste deposits in traditional construction are:

  • Packaging (up to 5%)
  • Lumber/Wood (up to 25%)
  • Drywall (up to 36%)

Consequently all this waste ends up directly in a landfill. The average disposal fees in Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan rage between $1,800 and $3,100 for just the tipping fees.

The Need for Alternatives

Due to the environmental and cost impacts, developers and home owners are seeking alternative construction methods for green building and reducing construction waste. Offsite building and modular construction has long been a front-runner in green solutions and reducing waste by sustainable methods, efficiency, material reuse and recycling. Materials are not used on only one home, additional lumber and supplies are saved and reused on other homes. Recent studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) show that modular generates on average 32% less waste than traditional construction.

The Dickinson Homes factory continually works toward less waste by smart material purchasing, extensive reuse procedures and a companywide recycling program. We have goals in place to achieve Net-Zero waste and are always working to get there. This allows us to leave a very small construction footprint and provide our home owners peace of mind and cost savings.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency – https://www.epa.gov/

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory – http://www.nrel.gov/

The Home Innovation Research Labs – http://www.homeinnovation.com/

The Modular Building Institute – http://modular.org/

McGraw Hill Construction Report – https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/el/economics/PrefabricationModularization-in-the-Construction-Industry-SMR-2011R.pdf

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