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Why is this important for buildings?

Materials and resources are the foundation of the buildings in which we live and work, as
well as that with which we fill them, the infrastructure that carries people to and from
these buildings, and the activities that take place within them. The ubiquitous nature of
materials and resources makes it easy to overlook the history and costs associated with
production, transportation, consumption, and disposal.
The Story of Stuff, as this process has become known from the popular YouTube
video and subsequent book by the same name, often begins as raw materials from around
the world. They are transported, refined, manufactured, and packaged for sale. In a
conventional system, stuff is purchased, consumed, and discarded, often in a landfill. But
in reality, there is no away and each step in this process of production, consumption,
and disposal has significant environmental, social, and economic consequences.

Between a quarter and a third of all domestic waste is packaging: much of this is food
packaging. Its difficult to recycle, too. Plastic which is contaminated with food is hard
to reuse. Packets are often made up of several different layers laminated together (e.g. the
card, plastic and foil of fruit juice cartons), which makes them impossible to recycle. The
packaging industry argues that packaging is necessary for health and hygiene, and has
made efforts to make packaging much lighter and thinner (which means that it takes less
resources to make and less energy to transport), but the amount of packaged convenience
goods on offer is increasing all the time.
Packaging and transport are the two biggest environmental problems with convenience
drinks. The two are tied together, as heavier containers take more energy to transport, and
even recycling and refilling demand transport for the empties.
Comparing different packaging systems is fantastically difficult. Attempts have been
made to compare plastic with glass, or returnable bottles with disposable ones. The
results of such studies are very controversial, with those funded by environmental groups
typically coming to one conclusion, and those funded by industry coming to the opposite
conclusion The packaging industry claims it is greener now than it was because
packets and bottles have become lighter, which means fewer raw materials used and less
energy used for transport. However, flimsy, disposable packaging also means lower costs
for the producers, as well, and its hard to be sure that their motives are entirely
Overall, the problem is that packaging is driven by the desire to promote brands and to
make money, not by the desire to meet real human needs, or by the desire to protect our
environment. Faced with such a system, the best we can do as individuals is to minimise

our consumption of packaged products even healthy, organic ones! and to use
whatever recycling facilities are currently available.
Returnable glass bottles seem to be the best environmental option provided
transport distances for this heavy material are not too far. The traditional glass
milk bottle, increasingly under threat, is a classic example of a system that works.
Glass bottle banks for recycling are now ubiquitous in the UK and the
material collected really is reused. The average glass bottle contains over 25%
recycled glass. Green glass bottles manufactured in this country contain at least
60%, and sometimes as much as 90%, recycled glass. In 1997 425,000 tonnes of
glass were recycled in the UK some of this was made back into bottles and
jars, but many other products are possible, from fibreglass to building aggregate.
Recycling aluminium drinks cans is well established in the UK, and supporting
this is a must for green consumers. Twenty recycled aluminium cans can be made
with the power it takes to manufacture one brand new one Recycling 1kg of
aluminium saves 8kg of bauxite, 4kg of chemicals and 14kwH of electricity.
Plastic drinks bottles are also recyclable and collection services and plastic
banks are slowly being setup in the UK. Different kinds of plastic have different
properties, and different potential for recycling. Some are made from toxic PVC
best avoided altogether. PET is fully recyclable from old bottles back to
new bottles and can also be reused to make consumer goods from fleece
jackets to furniture.
Many drinks cartons including those containing GM-free soya drinks and
fairtrade orange juice are made from cardboard, plastic, and aluminium foil
laminated together. These are at least partially recyclable, but schemes to do so
are only just being launched in the UK.
Find your nearest recycling facliities with Recycle Mores bank locator.
It cannot be emphasised enough that recycling only reduces environmental
impacts, it doesnt remove them. Jokes about I drink as many cans of beer
as I can, to help recycling, are funny, but nothing more. Reusing bottles and
jars at home is a more direct way to save resources this gets round the
transport and energy costs of recycling glass and plastic. And the very best way to
cut down our impact on the planet, dull though it is, is not to buy convenience
packaging at all.

Avoid excess packaging

Try to avoid buying lots of packaging you may be able to get fruit and
vegetables packed only in paper bags, rather than on plastic or polystyrene trays.
Buy food and drink in recyclable packaging such as glass jars or tin cans
If you have storage space, buy dried goods in bulk this means fewer individual
Buy basic ingredients and cook them yourself, rather than small prepackaged
Organic fruit and veg in supermarkets is often highly packaged because it is
marketed as high-value luxury produce. Complain about this to your supermarket
or, better still, join a box schemeand have unpackaged fruit, vegetables and

other produce delivered straight to your door. The Organic Directory can be
searched for box schemes and local delivery services
And, of course re-use or refuse supermarket carrier bags! (Very organised
people, who use the same shop or chain regularly, can reuse fruit and veg bags as

efinition of Green Building

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are
environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle
from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and
deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design
concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a
sustainable or high performance building.
Impacts of the built environment:

Aspects of Built





Ultimate Effects :
Air pollution
Harm to Human
Water pollution
Indoor pollution Environment
Heat islands
Stormwater runoff
Loss of Resources

Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on
human health and the natural environment by:

Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources

Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation
For example, green buildings may incorporate sustainable materials in their construction
(e.g., reused, recycled-content, or made from renewable resources); create healthy indoor
environments with minimal pollutants (e.g., reduced product emissions); and/or feature
landscaping that reduces water usage (e.g., by using native plants that survive without
extra watering).
There are a number of reasons to build green, including potential environmental,
economic and social benefits.

Green Building History in the U.S.

Some practices, such as using local and renewable materials or passive solar design, date
back millennia the Anasazi in the Southwest built entire villages so that all the homes
received solar heat in the winter. The contemporary green building movement arose out
of the need and desire for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly building
practices. The oil price increases of the 1970s spurred significant research and activity to
improve energy efficiency and find renewable energy sources. This, combined with the
environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s, led to the earliest experiments with
contemporary green building.
The green building field began to come together more formally in the 1990s. A few early
milestones in the U.S. include:

American Institute of Architects

(AIA) formed the Committee on the Environment (1989)
Environmental Resource Guide published by AIA, funded by EPA (1992)
EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy launched the ENERGY STAR program (1992)
First local green building program introduced in Austin, TX (1992)
U.S. Green Building Council
(USGBC) founded (1993)
"Greening of the White House" initiative launched (Clinton Administration 1993)
USGBC launched their Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 1.0 pilot program (1998)
The Federal Commitment to Green Building: Experiences and Expectations (PDF) (89
pp, 2MB, About PDF), a report of the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive,
provides a history of federal involvement with green building. Some of the key federal
milestones include:

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes federal building sustainable performance
standards (2005)
Nineteen federal agencies
sign Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum
of Understanding (PDF) (10 pp, 152 KB, About PDF) at a White House Summit (2006)
The Office of Management and Budget unveils a new Environmental Scorecard for
federal agencies which includes a Sustainable Building element. (2006)
Federal Green Construction Guide for
Specifiers is made available on the Whole Building Design Guide (2006)
President Bush signs Executive Order 13423 - Strengthening Federal Environmental,
Energy, and Transportation Management (PDF) (5 pp, 172KB, About PDF), which
includes federal goals for sustainable design and high performance buildings (2007)
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 includes requirements for high
performance green federal buildings (2007)
The White Paper on Sustainability: A
Report on the Green Building Movement (PDF) (48 pp, 1.2 MB, About PDF) , published

by the Building Design and Construction magazine, also contains a brief history of green
building on pages 4-6.

Green Building Research

Green building research is being done
by national laboratories, private companies, universities, and industry. According to a
USGBC report published in 2006, over 70 percent of the green building research is
focused on energy and atmosphere research. The next largest category of research is
materials and resources. Indoor environmental quality, including issues pertaining to air,
is also being studied. The USGBC report, Green Building Research Funding: An
Assessment of Current Activity in the United States (PDF) (37 pp, 316 KB, About PDF) ,
have additional information.

Green Building and EPA

EPA Programs
EPA has a number of programs that provide resources to help you learn more about
the components of green building and how to incorporate these green building concepts
into differenttypes of buildings.
EPA adopted a new Green Building Strategy (2 pp, 697KB, About PDF) in 2008 to guide
the Agency's green building activities.
Green Building Workgroup
EPA's Green Building Workgroup was formed in July 2003 to bring together the many
programs across the Agency that work with the building and development sectors to
improve their environmental performance. The Workgroup seeks to build effective EPA
leadership in the green building movement by jointly informing, coordinating, and
guiding the development of Agency policies, programs, partnerships, communications,
and operations that influence building and development.
Greening EPA Buildings
To ensure that EPA's buildings and practices reflect the mission of protecting human
health and the environment, EPA continuously works to reduce the environmental impact
of its facilities and operations, from building new, environmentally sustainable structures
to improving the energy efficiency of older buildings. A number of EPA facilities are
actively pursuing or demonstrating green building principles.

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the

implementation of a print management system to control costs
and reduce waste associated with printing practices.
Design/methodology/approach A paper collection study found
that 8 percent of pages printed in the library were never

claimed. A print management system was implemented requiring

print jobs to be manually released by users. Statistics on
toner lifespan and number of pages printed before and after
the system was implemented were compared. Findings The
print management system reduced the total number of pages
printed in a semester by 32 percent from Fall 2009 to Fall
2011 and increased the lifespan of toner cartridges so they
would perform more efficiently. Practical implications
Implementing a print management system without charging
students a printing fee reduces the amount of wasted paper
and the costs associated with purchasing paper and toner for
printing services. Originality/value The paper describes
the implementation of a print management system in a library
that has substantially reduced the number of pages printed
from library computers and the amount of toner used. The
authors believe they have made a significant impact on
reducing a primary area of waste.
Reuse, recycle reduce: a greener library with print
management. Available from:
cle_reduce_a_greener_library_with_print_management [accessed
Dec 17, 2015]. Choosing materials
The choice of materials for a project requires considerations of aesthetic appeal and initial
and ongoing costs, life cycle assessment considerations (such as material performance,
availability and impact on the environment) and the ability to reuse, recycle or dispose of
the material at the end of its life.
Materials must be used sustainably this means the present use will not compromise
future use by running out or harming the environment at any time. Few materials fully
meet this criteria. The aim when selecting materials should therefore be to use:
1. materials from renewable or replaceable sources
2. recycled materials
3. materials that are in plentiful supply.
Life cycle assessment considerations include:

extraction and manufacture

waste disposal/recycling/reuse

Extraction and manufacture

Impact of extraction: The environmental impact of extraction such as large-scale
mining, on scarce, non-renewable resources is obvious, but even the extraction of

renewable resources will have some impact on the environment. The effects of extraction
may be:

visual pollution
air pollution
water pollution
chemical emission
release of CO2
damage to ecosystems
water use
energy use.
Energy and resource use: The total energy used in the extraction, production,
transportation and construction of a building material is the embodied energy of that
material. As high consumers of energy, buildings have a significant impact on our
environment. Understanding embodied energy allows us to understand how much and
where energy is used in the construction of buildings and the benefits of recycling.
Byproducts and emissions: The processes for the production of building materials can
cause pollution and emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Material sources: The source of materials must be considered to keep transport costs and
resultant emissions to a minimum. The heavier or more bulky materials are, the greater
the transport costs will be where possible, heavy and bulky materials in particular
should be sourced locally.
Availability: Availability may influence material selection decisions. Long delivery leadin times must be allowed for as delays may cause project hold-ups and cost and energy
Cost: Cost considerations must include the initial cost of purchase and the life cycle
costs of materials. Life cycle costs include maintenance, replacement, demolition and
disposal. Maintenance cost considerations must also factor in additional environmental
costs such as the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when repainting.
Transport to site: The further materials must be transported, the greater the financial and
emissions costs will be. Heavy or bulky products will have greater transport costs than
lighter weight materials.


Health and safety during construction/installation: Some materials such as solvents

and chemicals release VOCs, and materials that release dust and other airborne pollutants
may be harmful to people during installation or application. Limit harmful effects by

using paints, adhesives and primers that contain fewer harmful solvents
providing good ventilation in spaces where LOSP treated timber is being used
following the recommendations made by the manufacturer or supplier regarding
installation or application.
Ease of construction/installation: Select materials and systems for ease of construction
and installation. Complicated installations with close tolerances can result in greater
wastage or even rework being required.
Adaptability: The design of any building and the materials selection should consider the
future use or reuse of the building and use materials that facilitate adaptation or future
replacement. The more adaptable a material, the less waste will result from changing
needs or tastes.

Health and safety during the life of the building: Some materials give off emissions or
allow run-off or leaching of chemicals that can be harmful to the health of building
occupants. Adequate ventilation can mitigate some of the effects of gas emissions, but
materials should generally be selected to minimise adverse effects to occupants.
Structural capability: Materials must be selected or designed for their ability to support
the loads imposed by the building over the whole life of the building. An appropriate
structural system and correct selection of structural materials can reduce excess material
use and waste and increase the buildings adaptability for other uses.
Durability: A highly durable material may provide the most sustainable solution if it
reduces maintenance or replacement requirements but a material should also be
appropriate to the expected life of the building. Durability considerations should include:

the actual or serviceable life of the building

maintenance requirements
the minimum statutory requirements for the building element.
Maintenance: Design buildings using materials that are readily and easily maintained.
Generally, elements with higher maintenance requirements are likely to have lower initial
costs but they may also have higher whole-life and environmental costs. The level of
maintenance of a building element may also be determined by the performance
requirements of the Building Code, particularly with regard to durability and

Moisture resistance: Selected materials must be protected from moisture. Some

materials have a natural moisture resistance while others must be fully protected from
Material deterioration/decay: Some materials deteriorate rapidly, particularly in a moist
environment or if they are continuously wet, generally due to the growth of moulds or
fungi, or corrosion of some materials, so it is essential that materials selected have the
durability required for their area of use.
Thermal performance: Building design and material selection must contribute to good
thermal performance and reduced energy demand by including insulation and thermal
mass in the building. Building Code clause H1 Energy efficiency sets out minimum
requirements for thermal performance but BRANZ recommends that the minimum
requirements are exceeded wherever practicable.
Sound insulation: Building design and material selection must contribute to the sound
insulation of the building, both from exterior noise and sound transmission within the
Fire performance: Building design and material selection must be in accordance with
the requirements of Building Code clause C Protection from fire including fire
compartment separations, allowing the occupants safe escape from the building and
allowing fire service personnel safe access to the building. Materials must be selected for
ignitability, surface spread of flame, fire loading, and fire resistance and stability.

Waste disposal/recycling and reuse

Reuse: Materials that can be reused after the useful life of the building will reduce the
need for new materials to be produced in the future. How materials are installed and fixed
can have an effect on the ability to reuse them, so the shorter the expected life of the
building, the greater should be the reliance on screw or bolt fixing rather than adhesive
and other permanent fixings.
Recycling: Materials that can be recycled will reduce the need for new materials to be
produced, and the energy required to reconstitute materials is generally much less than
required for new production.
Waste disposal: Building design and site management should aim to minimise waste,
thereby reducing waste disposal and the release of pollutants. The impact of the disposal
of materials at the end of their serviceable life must be considered.

Im always shocked at the amount of waste I see when visiting a typical project under
construction. We all tend to accept that construction is a messy process, but stop to think
for a moment about the message that a cluttered and wasteful jobsite sends to our clients.
It would appear that were sending a significant part of their hard-fought-for project
budget to the landfill, or worse yet, that the project couldve cost less than it did. The
Construction and Demolition Recycling Association estimates that construction and
demolition waste accounts for 325 million tons of waste each year in the United States
about half of which can be directly attributed to residential construction. The U.S. Green
Building Council estimates that building construction accounts for a full 40 percent of
materials used and 30 percent of the total waste stream in the United States.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities for us architects and designers to reduce these
staggering numbers. And they capitalize on our talents as designers, appeal to our
inherent need for organization, help our clients save money, are more resource efficient
and enhance energy performance in the long term. Whats not to like?

Narofsky Architecture + ways2design

Most of us are familiar by now with the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra, the basic
tenets of which apply here as we seek to minimize construction and demolition waste.
But there are also ways that we architects and designers can positively affect the waste
stream through design and material specification decisions. Design is by far one of the
most powerful tools at our disposal.
We can specify renewable materials, or products with high recycled content or low
embodied energy, and ones that have minimal environmental impact. Or we can choose to
reuse existing materials by salvaging a building instead of demolishing it. This is a good
place to start.

AR Design Studio Ltd

(repurpose). Not
surprisingly, this is by
far the most efficient
way to reduce construction waste. Repurposing or reusing existing space is a huge
resource savings and preferable to recycling, which actually requires additional energy
input. It minimizes (or even eliminates) the need for onsite demolition, preparation and
foundation work, and its an entire buildings worth of materials that isnt going to
the landfill.
Reuse also extends to reclaimed building materials from other projects. Even if an
existing structure cant be repurposed or renovated, its still possible to salvage its
nonhazardous materials for reuse elsewhere.

Wakako Tokunaga Architecture

Demolition versusdeconstruction. If reuse isnt possible and demolition is required,
its important to divert as much of this waste stream as possible, because demolition
waste is volumetrically much greater than construction waste. When a project calls for
demolition, consider employing a contractor who specializes in deconstruction, which
separates materials and assemblies into recoverable components for recycling or reuse.
Many will even provide an accounting of the value of the deconstructed materials to use

as a tax deduction. This can help to offset the higher cost to your client of the more laborintensive deconstruction process.
How to Recycle Your Kitchen

BATON arquitectura &

Reduce (size). There are
many cases where its not possible to reuse an existing structure, and in these cases the
first priority should be to reduce the new buildings size to an absolute minimum.
Heres where your skills as a designer can have the greatest impact.
Every square foot we can remove in the predesign phases represents a substantial savings
in material material that the client wont need to purchase, the material suppliers
wont need to transport to the site, and the contractor wont have to install and then
handle the inevitable residual waste stream. This is so critical to reducing construction
waste that its hard to overstate.
Make your designs as small and efficient as possible.

Churreria Photography
Planning. Design also offers the opportunity to thoughtfully allocate the resources at
hand. Spaces that serve multiple functions can help reduce the overall material load and
space required to comfortably live. Carefully designed built-ins, convertible storage
solutions and purposeful space planning all contribute to making this possible. Designers
and architects are experts at this.

Blu Homes
Prefabrication. Manufactured housing and processes of prefabrication result in
verifiably lower waste streams. Using materials efficiently and carefully planning the
construction process is incentivized in the factory environment, where waste directly
reduces profit margins. Factories also effectively manage the supply chain for product
delivery, and installation efficiencies are captured in the conditioned working
environment as well.

BATON arquitectura & promocin

Modularity. Design must also seek to efficiently utilize existing material modules. It
wont be possible to do this throughout every interior space, but if you focus on the
overall structural dimensions and correlate those to a 24-inch module, it will maximize
framing efficiencies and minimize material cut-off waste. Besides, designers like grids
and modules anyhow, right?
This should appeal to your

CAST architecture
Engineered products. Some products, such as the LVL (laminated veneer lumber) seen
here, are specifically engineered for carrying heavy loads. LVL with dimensions similar
to regular framing lumber is roughly four times stronger. This results in a material
savings using less wood to accomplish the same structural outcome. As an added
advantage, LVL is also more dimensionally stable.
Using products for their inherent efficiencies ensures were not using more than we
need, effectively designing waste out of the process.

Bud Dietrich, AIA

Advanced framing. Many of us are guilty of relying on standard practice the way
weve always done it but framing lumber represents such a large portion of the
waste stream from buildings, it makes sense to rethink common practice. By using
advanced framing techniques, we can substantially reduce the materials required for a
residential building project.
Using two stud corners, insulated headers and header hangers in lieu of jack studs;
eliminating cripples; using single instead of double top plates; and other techniques can
add up to significant material and cost savings.
In addition to this helpful diagram, Build It Green offers an excellent common-sense
guide to advanced framing techniques. Every piece of lumber we can eliminate from the
structure is another material that the contractor doesnt have to transport to the site and
install, and then handle residual waste from it. The National Association of Homebuilders
(NAHB) has estimated the potential for savings for a typical 2,000-square-foot home
using advanced framing techniques as approximately $2,400 in framing material alone.
See more about the components of an efficient wall

Banyon Tree Design

Recycle (via material
selection).This is another
area where we can exercise
a lot of control in the design
and construction process.
We can be cognizant of the
materials we specify that
contain high amounts of
embodied energy, like
concrete, whose cement
component accounts for roughly 5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. If
possible, specify building products with a high recycled content rather than virgin
Site materials, insulation, concrete aggregate, countertops, carpeting, glass tiles, lumber
and even drywall can all be sourced with high recycled content. Specifying local
materials can reduce waste too by minimizing transportation and fuel consumption.

Delson or Sherman Architects

Recycle (via the construction
site). Our project manual and
specifications are a chance for us
to affect many other parts of the construction process beyond basic material selections.
We can use them to detail waste management plans too. Waste management plans set
expectations for diverting waste streams, recycling packing materials, stockpiling cut-off
lumber for reuse, segregating waste streams and generally reducing the overall volume of
trash that a project generates. They lay out an approach to materials handling on the
jobsite where the waste is generated. The National Institute for Building Sciences has
some excellent source material available describing waste management specifications.
Not only does this kind of waste management make good environmental sense, but
depending on where you practice, you may even be required to recycle and divert a
certain percentage of the projects waste stream by law.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

Education. Reducing the waste stream on a construction site means overcoming
ingrained mind-sets and embracing an educational component during the construction
Fostering a team approach where all parties are invested in this new way of working is
critical. It helps that beyond the environmental and efficiency offsets, there are cost
savings involved in being less wasteful too. And, with tipping fees ranging from $10 to
$40 per ton, those savings can add up quickly.
The education process starts with a commitment on the part of the client, architect,
designer and contractor, and must follow through to each and every subcontractor

involved for it to be successful. And a waste management plan can be the linchpin that
makes this shift possible.

Re-used and recyclable products

Buying products that have had a previous life, or have been made from parts which have
been (or can be) recycled is a great way of reducing energy and water use and waste.
Increasing numbers of products are being manufactured which contain parts made from
recycled contentmaterials that would have otherwise become waste. These products are
becoming more readily available and more popular. There is also an increasing range of
products made from recyclable materials which can be used again, for example, plastic
and aluminium products.

Product types
Look out for:


clothing and textiles

garden and landscape products
paper products.
sporting and recreational goods.

Some household products and personal items are also now being made out of remanufactured waste products. For example, doormats made from tyres, and jewellery
made from antique glass, old typewriter keys, circuit boards and even skateboards.

Environmental labelling
Claims about the environmental benefits of products are often used to promote them.
There are green marketing laws that regulate how companies in Australia should
label their products when making claims about environmental benefits, including
recycled content.
Labelling should be clear and not misleading. Products which are described as
recyclable must be able to be recycled in Australia although not necessarily
everywhere in Australia. This is because different councils and recycling facilities
will have different abilities to recycle products.

Commercial products with recycled content will usually have the type and
percentage of recycled materials written on the label.
Some of the common terms are described below.

Recycled material
This means the product is made from materials that would otherwise have become

Re-used material
This means that material in the product has been used more than once and could
possibly be used again and again.

Recyclable material
This means that the product is made from material that can be recycled, for example,
rigid plastics.

Re-manufactured material
Products with re-manufactured material have new and re-used parts or materials. For
example, old or damaged parts of a product may have been replaced so that the
product can have a second life.

Pre-consumer material
In products made from pre-consumer material, the recycled material is from the
manufacturing process. This material was never used by consumers and would have
otherwise become waste.

Post-consumer material
Post-consumer materials are waste products from homes or commercial and
industrial processes. The material has been recycled instead of becoming waste.

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Green marketing and the Australian Consumer Law Australian Competition &
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