Naomi Neilson founded Native Trails in 1996 and for more than 25 years, the sustainable kitchen and bath manufacturer has collaborated with hundreds of highly-skilled artisans in places such as Mexico, California, Vietnam, and Italy. Naomi is one of the few female leaders in the sustainable kitchen and bathroom industry, an industry that is heavily reliant on female consumers. In 2019, the company earned its B Corp Certification, joining a community of leaders helping to drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The company’s Vintner’s Collection is made from reclaimed wine-making materials.
Petrina Rhines with the Birch Group crew. (Photo courtesy of Birch Group)
“We look at the social value as well – we’re creating jobs within the deconstruction and reuse sector,” she adds. So far, Rhines has employed 25 workers from diverse backgrounds, per Birch Group’s website.
A female engineer inspects construction site. Image via Shutterstock/Phont
The smartest infrastructure is a group effort, bringing together the collective knowledge and expertise of everyone involved: from developers, to development finance institutions, to private investors, project managers, suppliers, policymakers and impacted communities. This also means that if we want to build infrastructure that is both gender-smart and climate-smart, we need education, coordination and synchronization to make sure that everyone involved is fully on board with the benefits.
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.
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.
“The first is there is a lack of education for beginning professionals and those who want to upgrade their skills and knowledge, and there are virtually no courses in North American building circularity,” said Martens. “This is the first micro-credential in building circularity in Canada – and, I believe, in North America.”
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.
Ava Mandoli/The Daily Northwestern. Sustainability is part of the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse’s deconstruction practices, as well as its retail location’s construction. Some of the store’s walls have been reclaimed from other buildings and are reinforced with scrap material.
“We want to make sure we get those barriers removed, make sure that we get the supportive services in place,” Nicklin said. “So that they get into a job, and they’ve got their gas figured out. They’ve got their childcare figured out. They’ve got everything ready to go because they’ve practiced it.” The transitional employment program connects participants with local employers, which allows them to support themselves and their families. The program has a job placement rate of over 80%, Nicklin said.
A government program designed to train women in carpentry and other trades inspired five women from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, located east of Toronto, Ont., to build tiny homes that will serve as shelters for those fleeing domestic violence. (CTV News)
“It just proves anybody can build. The trade is not gender-specific, my mom was a carpenter and she built our house,” Chief R. Donald Maracle told CTV National News.“It’s good to see women entering the trades.”
Why are we still demolishing buildings when we can design for deconstruction? In this episode, Arup structural engineer Grace Di Benedetto explains that we need to change our mindset and recognise buildings as valuable sources of materials rather than rubble.
Student designer Stella van Beers converted a disused grain silo into a two-story micro-home, fit for the pages of a Dr. Seuss adventure.
Plotted all over the Netherlands’ countryside, grain silos are largely going out of use due to a country-wide reduction of livestock, leading to lower demand for grain. Converting the disused silos into a functional and quirky place of respite, Stella van Beers renovated the cylindrical unit into a micro home.
Sheet metal worker Carey Mercer assembles ductwork at Contractors Sheet Metal on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in New York. The construction industry is fighting to recruit more women into a sector that faces chronic labor shortages. As spending on infrastructure rises, construction firms will need to hire at least 430,000 new skilled laborers in 2021, according to an analysis of federal data by the Associated Builders and Contractors. Right now, only 4% of construction laborers in the U.S. are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Yunmy Carroll, a veteran steamfitter, said a worker at a training session declared that women in construction are “whores.”
About 700 tradeswomen are participating the program, designed to help them navigate persistent bias and harassment on construction sites, from unwanted sexual advances to being assigned lesser duties like traffic control or fire watch.
Christina McNeill of Northeast Philadelphia (front) and other class members work with a trainer on physical strengthening exercises during the pre-apprenticeship program.ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer
“One of the ‘ah-ha’ moments was not to focus on high school seniors and young women,” Hoffman said. “Across the country, we’ve learned that many women make the choice to enter the trades in their mid-20s to mid-30s.” “They’ve been in the labor market. … They may have been in low-wage service jobs,” she said. “They are ready to look for something new, something that is high-paying because they may be needing to support children, and they are looking for the future.”
Climate change is the one of the most important issues of our time. Yet most of us don’t know how to think about it or what to do about it. I’ve made this site as an outlet for my thoughts on and journey through this topic, specifically within the context of the building industry — an industry that fascinates me because it is so tied to who we are as a modern society and because it has enormous potential to reduce environmental impact on a global scale.
If this experimental bridge is a success, it could be the first of many. Angela Nagle, a civil engineering Ph.D. student at the University College Cork who is investigating environmental, economic, and policy issues surrounding blade bridges, hopes to see dozens of them dotting the Irish countryside in the not-so-distant future. With 11,000 tons of blades expected to be decommissioned across Ireland by 2025, there should be no shortage of material to work with.
The government needs to go further with its circular economy plans if the UK is to reduce its waste and make a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to engineers from the University of Sheffield.
Adding circular economy principles to the planning process would put greater emphasis on retrofitting buildings, designing for adaptability, deconstruction and reuse of materials at end of life. It would both reduce waste, and help to reduce the UK’s demand for new materials.
Amy Marks is head of Industrialised Construction Strategy and Evangelism at the global technology company Autodesk.
She says building and construction is NOT an industry. It’s an eco system and this means it can’t be disrupted or reformed from the bottom up. It has to be disrupted from the top down. She means by influential clients such as large corporates or governments who can demand new outcomes through different methodologies.
In this Victorian house in London, Maria Speake – House & Garden’s Interior Designer of the Year – has cleverly reorganised the layout and made inventive use of the salvaged materials for which her company Retrouvius is known.
Wagh has expertise in historic renovation and adaptive reuse. For those projects she researches the building’s past uses and historical significance, prepares nominations for the National Registry of Historic Places, and helps clients navigate historic tax credits.
Jocelyn Aucoin of the Canning-based 1850 House specializes in dismantling historic structures by hand and salvaging material that can be reused. – Ashley Thompson
Aucoin sees the growing popularity of tiny homes as an opportunity to find another use for the reclaimed material 1850 House is able to salvage by carefully dismantling heritage homes in a manner the significantly reduces the amount of waste bound for a landfill.
One foot in fashion, one foot in salvage, often up to my knees in reclaimed building materials, but refusing to part with my knee-high boots, whilst dancing in mud with reclaimed radiators from the roaring 20s.
PUSH Buffalo Executive Director Rahwa Ghirmatzion, center, with PUSH members and community advocates Luz Velez, left, and Providencia Carrion at the Wash Project. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)
She now oversees the organization’s programs and operations, which include housing construction, solar installation, job training and a youth center, in addition to advocacy efforts. PUSH employs 40, and has renovated more than 100 homes in the past seven years.
“I am sad about the lack of recycling of building materials of our classic homes here in the Bay area. Recycling was once the pride of our city,” Davis told Berkeleyside. As interest in the re-use of original architectural pieces declined, she said, overhead expenses — garbage collection, PG&E, EBMUD, alarm systems, worker’s compensation and higher wages — have continued to grow, which has made it hard to keep the business running smoothly.
BOB WILLIAMS FOR THE INQUIRER
Tara Dugan at her shop, worKS.
Tara Dugan is an exception. In 2016, while searching for a building to open a boutique, she noticed an empty, 70-year-old gas station on a lightly traversed road in Kennett Square, a borough of just over 6,100 people. She saw the potential in an unloved structure, she said, as did three women who repurposed a Sunoco gas station in Malvern to serve gourmet fare.
Saint Pierre is sourcing her granite material directly from the building site for her prototypes (seen here), which she hopes will be incorporated into the new design. Courtesy Anna Saint Pierre
Acknowledging how large a carbon power the building industry is, Saint Pierre identifies the need for crafting new hybrid building blocks. This imperative has led her to formulate an atomistic understanding of architectonics. In her prototypes, stone slabs are smashed into rubble, then crushed into powders, compacted into terrazzo, or sandwiched into gabion walls.
Ruthie Mundell stands among new and vintage chandeliers—all salvaged and ready to find a new home. (Teresa Carey)
“You have a grassroots momentum for something like deconstruction, and you have a massive industry against it,” says Sara Badiali.
The building material reuse consultant thinks regulations are an effective way to make a change. Yet, she has searched the world and “can’t find any place that actually has the words ‘building deconstruction’ in legislation.”
Badiali worked with the city of Portland, Oregon, to create the nation’s first reuse ordinance. Now, Portland homes built before 1916 must be evaluated for deconstruction. Other cities like San Francisco and Milwaukee are drafting their own ordinances.
Jami Lloyd, Architectural Designer and A M King Blog Author
Scarcity of land; ample building inventory; reinvention of retail; rising construction costs; labor challenges; new regulations; environmental and schedule benefits; and resource-intensive procurement associated with virgin materials builds a strong case for adaptive reuse.
Cecilie Rohwedder for The Wall Street Journal
In an orange dumpster one recent Sunday morning, between old bricks and trash bags, Heather Olsen struck gold: rustic wood beams that once held the floor of a 100-year-old house.
When Ann and Corey Limbaugh renovated the attic of their home in Seattle four years ago, she spent weeks calling local lumberyards for pre-used wood. Eventually, she found one that had just received boards from an old building in Idaho. She was told to hurry because they wouldn’t be there for long.
The Architecture Lobby’s Think-In explored ways to improve the “soft infrastructure” of architecture, including better labor practices and achieving gender equity. Michael Schissel
“We need to improve laws and policies to better protect those who report abuse and to make abusers accountable,” Berkowitz continued. “We have to educate our culture at large to upend [the] negative backlash accusers experience. What can architects do to respond to or prevent abusive behavior? How can we organize labor to create a fair and equitable workplace?”
The American Architectural Salvage Shop, in Mt. Pleasant.
Czerpak said he will work closely with the demolition manager to evaluate potential projects based on store inventory needs or popular items. Waltenbaugh said 75 percent of people hired for the team will be female heads of household, those struggling with addiction and others who might have difficulty finding jobs. The employees will be trained.“We’re excited to get that up and running,” he said.
Credit: photo by Robert Venturi, courtesy Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
Even as the gender gap closes in architecture school — with nearly as many women graduating in architecture as men — research shows that across the world women are hired less, paid less and blocked from key creative positions at the top of firms.
Helms is passionate about promoting Legacy Architectural Salvage (LAS) as Wilmington’s source for reclaimed wood, doors, windows and other architectural salvage to use in the renovation and repair of older homes, according to a press release. She believes in the role of architectural salvage in environmental sustainability through the reuse and repurposing of historic salvage.
Nancy Meyer finds boxes of expensive Italian tile on a shelf at Community Forklift. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
Meyer’s part-time job eventually became a full-time mission to get the nonprofit off the ground. She negotiated with the landlord for a lower rent, cleaned up the store, created guidelines to standardize prices and designed internal structures that would make operations more efficient. Because Community Forklift couldn’t afford advertising, she launched a grass-roots marketing campaign to educate the community about environmental issues and promote the nonprofit. Community Forklift still hosts educational programs, including monthly arts festivals and DIY reuse workshops.
Community Forklift and its CEO Nancy J. Meyer won a SHINE Award from eBay in the Charitable Business category. Photo courtesy of Community Forklift
Community Forklift is a nonprofit reuse center for building materials, architectural salvage and antiques. The name refers to the organization’s mission “to lift up communities” in the DC area by turning the region’s construction waste stream into a resource stream. “These prizes will help us reach a larger online audience, which means we can do more good here in the DC region!” Meyer wrote on a blog post. “We can keep more materials out of landfills, provide more free materials to neighbors in need, and offer more green jobs to local residents.”
That rule means a lot more certified deconstruction experts are needed. Tuesday, the city let us into a hands-on workshop at a home on Northwest 23rd Avenue, where 15 men and women were learning the trade.
Devon Campbell-Willliams is one of those trainees. He worked as a construction flagger before, and wanted to learn deconstruction technique hands on.
“You don’t want to go to straight in and straight up to pry up floorboards, if you do that you could crack the wood and it wouldn’t be reusable,” he said.
Isabel Ordonez Pizarro, an expert on how yo reuse materials from trash. Credit: Chalmers University of Technology
“In general, I think that people who are interested in circular economy or material recirculation will find my work useful. But I still think that it’s much work left to do. I would like to establish material recirculation hubs in urban areas, where local producers, secondary material providers, waste managers and makers can meet and create new ways of collaborating to enable material recovery. I also find it interesting to develop more efficient, decentralized waste management solutions and I believe that it would help users to sort their waste better,” Isabel says.
Ann Woodward, executive director of the Scrap Exchange, stands before the strip mall and parking lot that the organization now owns.
The Scrap Exchange is on the brink of something much bigger. This summer, the organization closed on a deal to buy 10 acres of a moribund strip mall surrounding the building. Executive director Ann Woodward’s ambition is to turn the area into a “reuse arts district,” unlike any in the country. It will include a range of creative elements, like a playground made of reused materials, a shipping container mall hosting local entrepreneurs, a recycle-a-bike program, artists’ studios, and a performance space.
Thoman and her firm are on a mission to “facilitate and educate the world on how to give back to the environment, by thinking past the dumpster.” She is adamantly opposed to what she sees as the waste generated by conventional demolition.
After interning with the RA in the summer of 2014, Michaela Harms continued her studies in Civil Engineering on exchange in Lefkosia, Cyprus at Frederick University. Her focus in the program was on structural design and renewable energies, both vital aspects of sustainable construction innovations. Now in her final year of studies, she has returned to Helsinki to work and complete her thesis on estimating decentralized renewable energy potentiality with Bionova, a Helsinki-based sustainability consulting company and LCA innovator.
Upon completing her BSc, Michaela plans to return stateside. She hopes to gain further expertise in research and design through work with an innovative sustainable building or renewable energy company. Her heart still lies in grass roots sustainable solutions. She hopes to continue to her Masters in 2017 at the Iceland School of Energy.
Interested in interning for a cutting edge social media site dedicated to reducing waste with building material reuse and architectural salvage? Join the Reclamation Administration – we give good internships!
Rachel Meyer, left, and Misty Sedotal, both pre-apprentices with Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc., deconstruct a former strip club in the Cully neighborhood of Northeast Portland. (Sam Tenney/DJC)
“We know what was going on behind these walls,” Neel said. “So yeah, this feels good. There’s something poetic about it – I mean, this building was used to disempower women for years. There was prostitution, all kinds of stuff. Now to have a project that will benefit the community and give women an opportunity to learn a trade and be able to earn a good living – there’s nothing more empowering than that.”
Students said they enjoy working around and being taught by other women. They expect the experience to help them make the jump to a field long dominated by men.
Oregon Tradeswomen pre-apprentice Yolanda Sandoval removes a ceiling grid at a Northeast Portland building that is being redeveloped by a coalition of community groups into the Living Cully Plaza. (Sam Tenney/DJC)