Meanwhile, the ordinance’s continued suspension provides more time to develop a market for materials recycled from deconstructed houses. Selling those materials helps reduce the higher cost of deconstruction.
The National Association of Home Builders reports that 58,600 houses were removed from their lots in 2017 to make way for newer, almost always larger, houses. Many of them were obsolete places that nobody wanted, and the land under most was probably more valuable than the houses themselves. But instead of being demolished, at least some could have been deconstructed: taken apart systematically so their parts could be reused.
“In a demolition project, the entire building is demolished and wrecked,” said Olivia Cashman, construction and waste specialist with Hennepin County. “Whereas in a deconstruction project, the building is taken a part and it’s typically by hand so that process typically takes a lot more labor and time.”
This article explores how heritage values can be productively sustained or transformed by processes of building deconstruction and materials reuse, which address the increasing magnitude of demolition waste, landfill and resource use in urban development. The article starts by examining literature in heritage studies, sustainable building, and discard studies, then presents two examples from Vancouver, a Canadian city under intense development pressure, to help frame questions from project and policy contex
PHOTO: CLARA HOWELL – Workers have started building vertical on the new City Hall building.
Redevelopment Manager Sidaro Sin said contractors were able to recycle 90% of the two existing buildings — a former medical office and doggy day care — that were on the property where the new City Hall is being built. That was about 15% more than the contractors’ original goal.
For about six months last year, the St. Louis Development Corporation hired workers to carefully take apart a former storage warehouse in the Vandeventer neighborhood and saved lumber, brick and other materials for reuse.
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“Each job is like a cadaver. You get to dissect the building, see how it was put together, how it worked, how it could fail,” Schwarz said. “And each job is different. You don’t always know going into it what exactly is going to be there.”
‘To me, this indicates the need to further question the current practices of the construction sector. How is it that something so simple and obvious as keeping reusable resources intact and in circulation can have become so complicated to put into practice?’
Ethical bank Triodos claim their new headquarters is the world’s first totally demountable office building. Photograph: Ossip van Duivenbode
With a structure made entirely from wood, it has been designed with mechanical fixings so that every element can be reused, with all material logged and designed for easy disassembly.
For those interested in learning more about deconstruction and reuse in detail from the comfort of your office!
Deconstruction vs Demolition on-line webinar series (4 modules at 1-1/2 to 2 hrs each)
January 15 & 16, 2020
*Purpose and Benefits of Deconstruction (Jan 15 @ 12 to 2PM EST)
*Markets for Deconstructed Materials (Jan 15 @ 2:30 to 4PM EST)
*Material-Specific Deconstruction Methods (Jan 16 @ 12 to 1:30PM EST)
*Planning and Conducting a Deconstruction (Jan 16 @ 2 to 4PM EST)
The sessions will be recorded for any registrant to view at a later date, and one can enroll for 1 or up to all 4 modules independently.
2.0 HSW CE Hours
“It can be hard to describe exactly what we do because we do a lot! Our deconstruction team takes apart old buildings; our resale team finds new homes for the reclaimed materials; and our Refab Lab crew turns some of those materials into high-quality home furnishings. On top of all that, we provide training and reemployment opportunities to recently homeless men.”
Workers from the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse have already begun the deconstruction process as part of YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s long-term expansion plan. (YWCA Evanston/North Shore)
YWCA is partnering with the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse because the local non-profit organization employs high quality, sustainable deconstruction practices.
Buildings like the vacant row houses in Baltimore can be demolished, but they can also be deconstructed to salvage the materials. The salvaging process requires much more time and labor than demolition. For Baltimore – a city with an unemployment rate of nearly 5%, climbing up to 15% or more in some neighborhoods, and a poverty rate nearly double the national average – this presents an opportunity.
The idea works like this: before an abandoned building is torn down, crews salvage all the materials they can get from it – like wood – and keep it out of landfills. At the same time, they give the people who live in those neighborhoods the job of doing that. “It gives you a new sense of your community,” said Baltimore native Kobe Bland, who works at Brick and Board. “You start to view your community a little different because you see the potential of what could be.” What started out as the “Baltimore Wood
Chelsea Pickett, Stardust’s business development manager, says the growth of metro Phoenix makes it challenging to keep up with construction demands, but more people participating in the reuse movement could ease the pressure. (Photo by Megan Marples/Cronkite News)
A 2015 Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet on construction and demolition waste found more than 545 million tons of debris ended up in landfills every year, even though 75% of those materials had the potential for reuse.
The most interesting architectural feature of the Rehoboth Public School is its modernist, art deco-style main entrance.
“Because of the salvage value, and the fact the contractor could do the work in the summer when there were few people on site, we were able to get a relatively low demolition cost, so everybody wins,” said Bassett.
Contractor Alex Clarke was carefully taking the single-car garage apart by hand, separating various building materials for reuse and recycling, when he pulled off an interior wall to discover hundreds of newspapers and magazines. Nailed in neat stacks between the studs as insulation and protected between cardboard, much of the paper was in surprisingly good condition.
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.
“We thank everyone for their hard work. We can breathe a sigh of relief that we no longer have to worry about the rickhouse coming down on its own. Now we can concentrate efforts on our barrel recovery.”
Gary Ringer. Photo by Stephen Koss.
In 2013, he founded a company called Eco-Environmental Solutions as a grassroots way to address blight in the Detroit area. The company specializes in deconstruction, the process of taking apart old buildings and salvaging parts of them for reuse. In doing this work, Ringer draws on an understanding of structures he’s gleaned from his time as a firefighter as well as prior job experiences building massive homes in the suburbs of southeast Michigan.
COURTESY OF JUDY COLBERT
One benefit of shopping salvage: the pleasure of having part of your home remind you of your childhood home, perhaps helping your grandmother make cookies or sitting by a fireside on a brisk evening.
Deconstructing history isn’t easy. Turney puts hours of sweat into the process, prying out rusty nails that haven’t budged in more than 50 years.This is the second Quonset hut he’s helped reclaim in the past couple years. The patinaed metal will be a huge hit in his Palmer store.“Some people use it as wainscoting or on the trim of a bar,” he said.
The project wants to build a regional economy network around wood and land restoration, with a specific focus on reclaiming wood, lives and neighborhoods in the urban and rural areas.
“I don’t think (the fee increase) goes far enough,” he said, adding that “there should be a law that you either move the house or use portions of it to build a new house or disassemble it board by board so it can be used.”
As an alternative to demolition, you may find a deconstruction company in your area that can take apart buildings and divert up to 90 percent of materials from landfills to reuse. You may also save money by selling or receiving a tax deduction from donating the used building materials. Endeavor to use treatment technologies that are designed to keep waste generation down.
Re-use Hawaii founder Quinn Vittum talks about the salvaging operation at Kona Village Resort at their yard below the Kaloko Light Industrial Area. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)
One company on Hawaii Island has assumed a more macro view of recycling and in only a year has filled an entire baseyard with salvaged material from demolished structures. Re-use Hawaii is a nonprofit deconstruction business, and the only one of its kind, focused on reducing the single largest landfill waste stream in the state.
Rather than demolishing blighted buildings, the city is helping fund nonprofits that take the buildings apart piece by piece—then resell the parts, which still have significant value in construction.
In addition to that, make sure you’re deconstructing your home during a renovation instead of demolishing it. This ensures that some materials in your home can be repurposed instead of being thrown out as waste. You can sell or donate your deconstructed items and help another person make a sustainable choice by upcycling them.
Hydraulic shears takes down part of the old ACRA building for the new Aspen city offices on March 6.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times
“We had a goal of 65 percent for diversion and we are at 74 percent,” said Brain Thomas, the project manager for Shaw Construction. “We are happy with Aspen Deconstruction. They knocked it out of the park.”
UNBUILDERS — Adam Corneil, who operates Unbuilders, says he aims to collaborate, rather than compete, with traditional demolition contractors, letting them take down a building to the wood frame.
“Tens of millions of dollars of lumber are purchased every day in this country,” he explains. “The fact we’re just shredding it (old wood structures) up and burning it is completely irrational in my mind.”
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Burying construction debris can dredge up naturally-occurring chemicals in the soil like arsenic and manganese that leach into groundwater after precipitation.
In order to catch up with demolition, Adams said he wants people who don’t deconstruct buildings to pay what he calls the “social costs” of carbon emissions to cities, which is the price of mitigating climate change. Reuse and recycle of construction waste cuts down on emissions in part because of the energy it takes to create new building materials. Adams pegged that carbon cost at roughly $9,000 for a typical house. He said cities should use that money to offer grants to homeowners who can’t pay for decon
I was reading about the scale of the abandoned housing problem – that there are 40-60,000 abandoned, vacant, or blighted houses in Philadelphia. The idea was to create an organization that could take on the abandoned housing blight block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood.
The city’s economic development agency, St. Louis Development Corp., is testing an alternative process this year that deconstructs buildings piece by piece. The more expensive process is used to salvage materials as well as reduce health risks from dust and debris. City officials said it isn’t financially feasible to use “deconstruction” to remove all of St. Louis’ 12,000 vacant properties, but they hope to expand the 30-building pilot project in the future.
Adam Corneil’s Vancouver company UnBuild, offers an environmental alternative to building demolitions and cost savings for homeowners.
The City of St. Louis is ramping up demolition of vacant buildings on properties owned by the metro’s land bank, but some of them will undergo deconstruction instead. (Photo by Oscar Perry Abello)
As he gears up for the pilot project with the city, Schwarz says that Refab will tighten its hiring focus. “We’ll hire people from the neighborhoods where we do the deconstruction,” he says. “We’re going to take tax dollars and put them into the pockets of the residents who are affected by this activity in their neighborhood.”
Refab crews will dismantle the historic building and preserve its handmade bricks and timbers.
CREDIT LAURA GINN | SLDC
As part of the contract, Refab will disassemble a three-story brick warehouse built in 1884 in the Vandeventer neighborhood.Schwarz said the building was an “excellent candidate” for deconstruction, in part because its brick and timber have survived more than 100 years without being painted.“We were just shocked when we got into it for the first time that it was so well preserved,” he said.
In September, Habitat for Humanity volunteers “deconstructed” elements of Bradley Center suites.
“You know there’s salvage in every job. It’s up to us to determine what percentage. That’s what makes people competitive,” Hosier said.
Mark Raszewski rescues unclaimed materials from businesses when they close or renovate. Nearly all of the items he sells are from Dane County. PHOTO ERICA KRUG
When local businesses or facilities close or get renovated, Raszewski helps to take places apart (recently Mautz Paint, Marling Lumber, UW-Madison’s Agronomy research lab, and Oscar Mayer), salvaging many unclaimed materials.
In addition, deconstruction can potentially generate jobs around harvesting, processing and selling materials. Arlene Karidis | Sep 20, 2018
“The reuse economy is similar to the recycling industry in that it creates more jobs throughout the value chain than strictly disposing material in a landfill. As the reuse market continues to grow, more jobs will be created downstream, including warehouse operations, retail, value-added manufacturing and job training,” says Blomberg.
Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Deconstruction is underway at the power plant on 15th Street in Jasper. The company deconstructing the plant anticipates that 90 percent of the building’s material will be reused or recycled.
“We have a tremendous response from farmers, architects, as well as collectors of old memorabilia for most of the items slated for repurposing,” a Green Earth spokeswoman said in an email. She said the company plans to salvage compressors, generators, 60 percent of the beams, electronic switches, metal grading, miscellaneous electronic equipment and the front façade of the building.
Mr. Guy is an associate professor of practice and director of the MS in Sustainable Design program, School of Architecture and Planning, The Catholic University of America (CUArch), Washington, DC. He is also the director of the Center for Building Stewardship, and director of the MS in Facilities Management program at CUArch. Mr. Guy’s teaching and research focus on sustainable and healthy materials and C&D waste, life cycle assessment, prefabrication and modular design, design to use reclaimed materials, design for deconstruction, and building deconstruction. In 2005, he co-founded the Building Materials Reuse Association, and he has conducted deconstruction projects throughout the US.
The goal of this event is therefore to bring together individuals and organizations active in related areas of heritage conservation, urban, architectural and construction history, critical heritage and discard studies, building deconstruction, sustainable materials and waste management, to address these gaps and possibilities for bridging between these areas as part of projects, policies, research or creative practices.
Photo courtesy of J. Breneman/NRRI
Moving forward, Krause states that educating the public about deconstruction as an alternative to demolition is essential. “Every state has that looming ‘filling-up the-landfills’ problem. This project addresses it directly,” stated Krause.
It takes more workers to pry apart a building than to operate a wrecking ball. Although that makes deconstruction more expensive, creating additional jobs is appealing in a city where 23 percent of residents live in poverty.
Debris remains where a demolished rowhouse once stood on one of many blocks slated for demolition in Baltimore. When possible, city officials want to dismantle and salvage materials from buildings rather than demolishing them.
Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press
The two Baltimore enterprises address multiple problems at once. Details Deconstruction takes apart blighted buildings and salvages or recycles materials that are still valuable — a process called deconstruction. Brick and Board processes and sells reclaimed materials, saving them from the landfill. And both hire people with criminal records and prepare them for jobs in the construction industry.
An environmental collaborative aims to remove vacant properties, plans to salvage materials from 30 buildings in north St. Louis in 2019. Refab, a salvage yard in south St. Louis, is identifying buildings that qualify for deconstruction.
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“When you strategically disassemble a structure, there’s more opportunities to find and remediate environmental hazards,” Ginn said. “It would allow us to reduce the amount of waste we’re sending to landfills and you don’t have as much dust spreading through neighborhoods.”
Though we tend to think of buildings as singular entities, in reality, they are complex structures made of thousands (if not millions) of smaller parts. And, even though a building may be at the end of its life cycle, the components that make it up aren’t.
The deconstruction is in preparation for the installation of the Keller Mill this Spring. The Keller Mill has been nonoperational for over 60 years, but was built in the same time period as the Butte Creek Mill. (Genevieve Grippo/KTVL)
The deconstruction is in preparation for the installation of the Keller Mill this Spring. The Keller Mill has been nonoperational for over 60 years, but was built in the same time period as Butte Creek. Using the donated parts of the Keller Mill will contribute to keeping the rebuild as authentic as possible.”The grinding wheel– all that stuff is going to be back as it was. So it’ll be grinding flour again,” said Hammonds.
Topped by recycled fir baseboards from Jimi Hendrix’ childhood home, this guitar made by luthier Reuben Forsland also has nails and wiring from the home inlaid in all of its fret markers. The “story” guitar is a collaboration between Forsland and Kevin Hennig of Symphontree Music in Sandspit. (Kevin Hennig/Symphontree Music)
Handmade by Reuben Forsland, a Métis luthier in Comox, its soundboard is made from the fir baseboards of Hendrix’ bedroom. Inside the silver fret markers are wires and nails from the home. For the rosette, the decorative trim around the soundhole, Forsland inlaid bits of paint from the Hendrix home floor, encased in 150 pieces of ebony. “That’s what this guy does, all the time,” says Kevin Hennig, owner of SymphonTree Music, a specialized guitar shop based in Sandspit.
Photo by Ramona Campos December 16, 2016
The Allards got the name of Second Chance through an architect they had met. Once they realized the win-win situation that using Second Chance presented to them: making a tax deductible donation to deconstruct, paying less than demolishing would cost, doing something positive for young men who wanted to turn their lives around, and avoiding putting tons of materiel into a landfill: they were ready to sign on the dotted line. On top of that, the owner gets 15 points towards green home certification.
Construction crew (from left) Marcus Banks, Demetrik Williams and supervisor Steven Teasley listen while Mayor Tom Barrett holds a press conference in front of a home at 2700 block of N. 40th St. Angela Peterson
The city will train unemployed residents of the Sherman Park neighborhood for construction jobs by starting them on crews to disassemble vacant city-owned houses, Mayor Tom Barrett said Wednesday.
Dismantling an abandoned house with a goal of salvaging building materials for reuse and recycling can provide the training and work experience needed for someone to step into a job in the construction industry, he said.