Is construction site recycling worth the effort?

Developers transformed Columbus, Ohio's Lazarus Building into one of the "greenest" in the United States, keeping 75 percent of the original structure and recycling the rest. See more architecture pictures.

Perhaps no edifice in Columbus, Ohio is more aptly named than the Lazarus Building. Built a century ago, the former department store was a go-to destination for those living in the Midwest. With as much room as the 1-million-square-foot Target Field in Minneapolis, the Lazarus Building was a landmark that eventually fell into disrepair. By 2004, the building was vacant and contaminated with asbestos.

Three years later, the Lazarus Building rose from the dead, much like its biblical namesake. A $60-million restoration and renovation project turned the hulking structure into a massive retail and office complex [source: McDonald]. During construction, developers transformed the Lazarus Building into one of the "greenest" buildings in the United States, keeping 75 percent of the original structure, while reusing and recycling much of the material they found.

During construction, workers recycled 2,000 tons of steel; 1,000 tons of concrete; 300 tons of carpeting; 100 tons of ceiling tiles; and 50 tons of wood [source: McDonald]. The payoff was huge. The builders saved more than $25 million and kept more than 11,000 tons of debris out of landfills [source: Environmental Protection Agency and McDonald]. Had the original building been demolished, there would have been enough rubbish to fill a quarter of Ohio Stadium where the Ohio State Buckeyes play [source: McDonald].

Whether builders are renovating new buildings or demolishing old ones, recycling construction debris pays off big-time, while simultaneously helping the environment. If done correctly, developers can recycle up to 95 percent of all waste materials and save tens of thousands of dollars [source: Lennon]. Go to the next page to find out why recycling construction and demolition debris is worthwhile.