Architect Andrew Franz used reclaimed timber extensively in this renovation of a loft apartment in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, transforming a small space into a bright and comfortable home for four.
A growing number of designers, architects, and builders are catching on to the goldmine that is construction waste, and have started recycling wood, plastic, and metal, and upcycling rubble to create entirely new materials for use in home design.
A dynamic combination of micro presentations and active collaboration to fast-track adoption of salvaged wood into mass timber.
In the ongoing search for building materials with the lowest embodied carbon and highest carbon storage capacity (that can be managed in a circular economy), the use of salvaged wood in finger jointed products/feedstock and mass timber assemblies keeps rising to the surface.
This summit will:
spotlight recent related innovations
identify key components and status of each
explore near-term opportunities for moving the effort forward
A burned residence smolders during the Bear fire, part of the North Lightning Complex fires, in unincorporated Butte County, California on September 09, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
“Though it may seem to laypersons that a postfire landscape is a catastrophe,” they wrote, “numerous studies tell us that even in the patches where fires burn most intensely, the resulting wildlife habitats are among the most biologically diverse in the West.”
But that hasn’t stopped federal agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management from cutting trees burned in wildfires or selling the logging contracts to private timber companies.
Rondo’s “brick toaster” heat storage system is 98% efficient, and stores cheap renewable energy for industrial use at 20% the cost of an electrochemical battery. Rondo Energy
These stoves are full of plain ol’ bricks, made out of plain ol’ clay, sometimes with a bit of sand in there, but certainly nothing special in terms of materials. Nothing toxic, nothing that decays over time. These bricks will still be storing heat just as well in 40 or 50 years’ time, when chemical batteries have gone through several generations of complex recycling.
The Good Store “radically rethinks the department store”, with an emphasis on reuse and refurbishment. A range of plastic-free and sustainably sourced products are on offer, with the space also set to host informative educational events and services to guide consumers through eco-conscious choices.
Re-New NZ Sustainable market organiser Julie Cronin restoring a desk in her workshop garage in Havelock North. Photo / Warren Buckland
Cronin had decided she needed to do something to shape her own and her family’s future, so she started the Havelock North business to take everyday goods that would usually end up in landfill and give them a new lease of life.
(Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
Production of cement, the raw material in concrete, accounts for between 7 and 8 percent of global carbon emissions today, due both to the fossil fuels used in its high-heat production and the chemical composition of the raw materials and processes that make it.
Reusing old wood, windows, metal, brick, and even concrete seems like a no-brainer (even some animals recycle used materials!), but it sadly doesn’t happen as often as it should. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, between 230 million and 530 million tons of construction and demolition waste are produced yearly in the United States.
Nzambi Matee, a 30-year-old who quit her job in oil and gas to work on her passion full-time, has created a lightweight and low-cost building material that is made of recycled plastic with sand to make bricks that are stronger than concrete material.
Using reclaimed materials and products can give your home a rustic charm while using existing items, keeping materials out of the landfill and reducing the demand for new products and the waste created when they’re made.
Transport trucks and loggers gather around fallen trees in the Chocó. (Photo courtesy of Brian Rodgers)
Some of Home Depot’s plywood is allegedly sourced from vulnerable forests in Ecuador’s Chocó region and the Brazilian Cerrado, and conservationists and investors have pressured the home improvement giant to clean up its supply chain.
Each piece of wood is marked with a unique QR codeDaniel Winkler/ETH Zurich
It’s a sad fact that even though our forests are disappearing at an alarming rate, new wooden structures are typically made of all-new wood. A special computer system could help change that, by facilitating the use of wood reclaimed from existing buildings.
The project would allow unlimited mechanized cutting and removal of live and dead trees of any age up to 2 feet in diameter and an undisclosed number of trees up to 5 feet in diameter, as well as the destruction of chaparral across 755 acres.
Nguyen Ngoc Anh, 36, who was an illegal logger turned forest protector poses at Phong Nha National Park, Quang Binh province, Vietnam, April 8, 2022. REUTERS/Hoang Trung
Now, Ngoc Anh is one of 250 former loggers trained by an adventure tourism company to lead mostly foreign tourists through jungles and into some of the world’s largest cave systems in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site.
An old-growth redwood tree named “Father of the Forest” in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California in August 2020. Some trees in the park have been standing for 2,000 years.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
“It’s a very good start on the things that we’ve been asking for,” said Kirin Kennedy, director of people and nature policy at the Sierra Club, one of the members of that coalition. She said her group is not necessarily calling for a moratorium on logging old-growth trees, but for a science-based approach to managing them. “We want to protect old trees, but we also want to make sure communities are protected,” said Kennedy.
The roof of ZGF’s new terminal for Portland International Airport will be constructed from locally sourced cross-laminated timber. Credit: Port of Portland
“Acting at scale is so eminently possible,” Lindsay Baker told me. She is the CEO of the International Living Futures Institute (IFLI), which runs the Living Building Challenge, an extraordinarily rigorous certification program that has pushed the building industry to achieve energy use reductions deemed all but impossible a few years ago.
Ten companies focused on reducing carbon emissions and waste, preserving water and protecting ecosystems have been selected to take part in Microsoft’s AI for Environmental Sustainability Accelerator programme.
Yes Make is helping design London’s public spaces with reclaimed materials from other developments
Ecologist Michelle Connolly standing among cedar trees in the inland temperate rainforest near Penny, BC. The inland rainforest gets much less attention from environmental groups than BC’s coastal rainforests, but it is an even rarer ecosystem.
In 2021, Connolly co-authored a peer-reviewed study that found that BC’s inland rainforest — which once totaled over 1.3 million hectares — was endangered, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature criteria, and could experience ecological collapse within a decade if current logging rates continue. The study found that 95 percent of its core habitat, forest located more than 100 meters from a road, had been lost since 1970. “We’re fighting over the last pieces,” Connolly says.
Logs are stacked high in this aerial view of Viking Lumber’s sawmill in Klawock, Alaska. SEAKdrones LLC
Land exchanges have allowed lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to bypass the Roadless Rule and other environmental protections and transfer ownership of thousands of acres of old-growth Tongass National Forest, opening the land up for logging.
“[Regular people are] competing against the largest private equity firm in the world to purchase a home,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “In fact, companies like Blackstone, Zillow and Bedrock are buying up to 15 percent of available homes – but what I find interesting here is that they’re purchasing them in minority and low-income neighborhoods specifically.”
COURTESY CAROLINE PERRON PHOTOGRAPHIES — Three years in the making, the patented machine cleans 99 per cent of a brick through a process involving a concrete grinder that allows the cleaning of the brick extremities.
Chifa says Maçonnerie Gratton calculates the brick recycling machine can eliminate up to 5.9 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the restoration of a 1,000 square foot brick wall. “Throughout Quebec and Canada this means a lot because we are all about bricks,” Stoia says. The recycling machine “sets the tone” for municipalities and the province to consider legislation on the reuse of construction materials. She adds recycling bricks for reuse helps to conserve Quebec’s architectural past.
The Plaza Hotel in New York City.Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images file
That’s because there is very little the government can do to find out who owns what real estate in the U.S., which has become a “destination of choice” for money launderers throughout the world, said Louise Shelley, the director of the transnational crime and corruption center at George Mason University, who has been an expert witness about how Russian money is laundered through real estate.
Aerial image of high elevation forests in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which is part of the southern Blue Ridge eco-region that NC State researchers studied. The image was created using data from the National Agriculture Imagery Program. Credit: Katie McQuillan, NC State.
“We think that increasing temperatures are behind greater water use during droughts,” McQuillan said. “When it’s hotter, forests use more water to keep themselves cool.”
Sand is everywhere and in everything. Of course, that means there’s a pretty nasty underground sand business run by some pretty nasty sand people, proving once again that there’s no resource too tiny for humans to kill each other and the planet over.
A log truck near Tillamook, Ore., in an undated file photo. Amelia Templeton
Gutman countered that logging revenue isn’t the only permanent value that forestland can provide and that recreation, habitat protection, flood stabilization and other land uses also contribute. “It provides economic value even if the land doesn’t generate revenue,” Gutman told the court. “That’s not just some 21st-century notion being superimposed on statutes from the 1940s.”
The monetary value of riverbed material was realised as the world moved towards concrete construction. Pathak says, “As the country moved towards urbanisation, demand for the RBM [riverbed material] for construction activities exploded.”
The construction industry is notoriously fragmented, with different sub-contractors often designing and developing parts of buildings without interacting with one another, which means opportunities to reuse materials are missed. However, if each component had a digital ‘passport’ which clearly defined its material composition alongside possible reuse options, materials would be far less likely to be wasted.
Leaving older forests to their own devices means safeguarding vital wildlife habitats and healthy ecosystems that fortify our planet’s overall climate stability. If that isn’t reason enough to keep our remaining big trees standing, then perhaps this will tip the scale: Old-growth forests store vast amounts of carbon.
One of these goals relates to ROCKWOOL’s offering reclaimed materials services, Rockcycle. The service facilitates the take back of ROCKWOOL stone wool products from construction or demolition sites and ensures the material is reused or recycled, helping to address the challenge of construction waste accounting for more than one-third of all solid waste globally.
The prominent factor favoring the growth of the global market is the increasing demand for reclaimed lumbers in the building & construction industry, especially in commercial and residential constructions. As per MRFR analysis, the expenditure in the global construction industry was USD 11.2 trillion in 2019and is projected to rise at a healthy rate year-on-year, to reach USD over 14 trillion by the end of 2027.
Sanitized thinned site on the Deschutes National Forest has removed most of the carbon (and wildlife habitat) which is subsequently emitted as Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere. Photo George Wuerthner
For instance, one study estimates that logging in the United States releases five times the carbon as wildfire, bark beetles, wind thrown, land use conservations, and drought combined.
This edition draws on five years of the Circularity Gap Report analysis to show the power of the circular economy to equitably fulfil our global needs and wants, but with radically fewer materials and emissions.
Trucks haul away illegally cut timber from a protected forest area in Cambodia in an undated photo. Credit: Amnesty International/Private
Other community members in Prey Lang said that illegal loggers sometimes offered to buy resin trees from them and that they felt that they had to accept whatever payment was offered because the loggers would cut down the trees regardless.
“We have used materials in every room, but the main area seems to be the kitchen,” she says, noting walnut as a popular choice for kitchen island tops. “As this is the main room people always seem to congregate in, reclaimed materials serve as conversation starters.”
For example, cities are beginning to adopt materials reclamation policies. These laws require certain buildings to be deconstructed rather than demolished so valuable materials can be reused. Reclaimed products are helpful for the environment and allow construction companies to dodge supply chain shortages, particularly for lumber. For example, the Kendeda Building at the Georgia Institute of Technology was built in part using 25,000 linear feet of reclaimed lumber from film sets around Atlanta.
But in a world where Americans throw out more than 12 million tons of furniture per year, it has also championed circular design by breathing new life in Danish castoffs, carving itself a cozy (dare I say hygge) niche in an oversaturated furniture market.
Kolomoisky is alleged to have bought it, along with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of other midwestern properties, as part of a money-laundering operation. According to Michel, who said that Kolomoisky declined to comment on any of the allegations in the book, the oligarch needed to move cash that had been obtained illegally into something “real,” in order to hide its origins (and perhaps use it as collateral for legitimate loans).