In 2015, as a country, we threw away more lumber than loggers harvested from the nation’s forests. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 11.1 million tons of wood ended up in the nation’s landfills in 2015, 30% more than the 8.8 million tons of virgin timber that were felled to produce new wood.

For George Berghorn, who worked in the field as a site superintendent and project manager before becoming assistant professor of construction management at Michigan State University, that statistic exposes an ugly truth about construction today: Namely, while green building and energy efficiency have been a rallying cry of the construction industry for nearly two decades, the amount of waste that’s produced at construction sites to build these more environmentally friendly structures has only continued to rise, as builders still simply throw out materials on-site that could be recycled or reused in future projects.

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