Green Wrecking Ball: Demolition Done Right in Japan

Posted by Yasha Wallin

The Taisei Corporation, a Japanese construction company, has developed a way to demolish high rise buildings over 325 feet in a more ecological, quieter, and healthy way, rendering wrecking balls a thing of the past. Termed the Ecological Reproduction System, the disassembly process works from the inside out, in an enclosed space as opposed to traditional methods which work with an open roof.

Using a crane, material from the interior of the building is removed. That includes beams, concrete, paneling, etc. In this way the process is kind of like a reverse assembly line, taking apart the structure bit by bit. Anything reusable from this process is recycled and repurposed.

"This revolutionary new system enables systematic disassembly of high-rise buildings and allows reuse of the disassembled construction materials. In addition, the energy generated by lowering materials to ground level is used to offset overall CO2 emissions," the Taisei Corporation explains on their website. The movement of the crane generates energy, which can then be harnessed to power lights and other equipment. The other added benefit is that because the demolition is being done in an enclosed area, weather doesn't become a factor, allowing for a more rapid disassembly time and dust is contained.

The company started developing the technique in 2008 and it took them about a year and a half to come up with this new strategy. It was tested on one other building before it attracted attention with the tear-down of Tokyo's landmark Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka. Hideki Ichihara, Taisei's head of construction technology development, told the Japan Times that most buildings over 100 meters (approximately 325 feet) around the world are torn down after 30 or 40 years. With 797 buildings measuring over 325 feet in Japan alone, they estimate 99 of them will be 30 to 40 years old in 10 years. That means the development of this method couldn't have come at a better time. Watch the process in action below:

Photo via Wikimedia Commons