Tag Archives: reuse building materials

“Green” recyclable rubber gives new life to single-use building materials

Researchers have developed a new type of rubber polymer that can be combined with various waste materials and repeatedly recycled

Researchers have developed a new type of rubber polymer that can be combined with various waste materials and repeatedly recycledfranckito/Depositphotos

This allows the material to be shaped into tubing, coatings, bumpers, insulation, and many other things you’d normally find made of rubber. But the important thing is that this isn’t the end of the story. Once these products have worn out or are no longer needed, they aren’t just thrown away – the rubber can be ground up into powder, placed back into a mold, and recycled into something new.

Source: “Green” recyclable rubber gives new life to single-use building materials

In a ‘Recycled’ House, Details That Will Grow on You – The New York Times


A bathroom tile pattern in a Los Angeles home built largely with reclaimed materials was designed to look like a colony of bacteria, based on images obtained from an electron microscope.CreditCreditCris Nolasco Studios

Mr. Pallrand’s master bedroom is paneled in redwood that Pacific Redwood culled from a decommissioned bridge built in 1925 in Humboldt County, its knotholes and bolt-holes still visible. The Philippine mahogany table, now carved with a mycelium-inspired runner down the center, was hewed from 1920s-era church pews that a congregation in Santa Monica, Calif., was dumping.

Source: In a ‘Recycled’ House, Details That Will Grow on You – The New York Times

Piece by piece, deconstructed Merc found new uses across Misssoula ~ Missoula Current

Katie Deuel, executive director of Home ReSource in Missoula, said thousands of items from the old Mercantile found their way into homes, schools and offices across the city. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

“One woman had a table made for her husband,” Deuel said. “He had worked at the Merc for 35 years, so she really wanted that. There’s some great human interest stories in there. People recognized the value of it as material that came locally from our ecosystem and stayed in the community.”

Source: Piece by piece, deconstructed Merc found new uses across Misssoula ~ Missoula Current

Construction waste to be turned into gas masks and sports equipment

Construction waste to be turned into gas masks and sports equipment

MDF is widely used in the walls of buildings and has so far proven hard to recycle. Credit: Pxhere, licensed under CC0

‘At the end of the building or renovating you probably have fibreboard as waste and, at this point, it’s not recyclable—it’s only burnt or landfilled,’ explained Dr. Vanreppelen. ‘But we’ve developed a process to use it to make a product called activated carbon, which is used as a filter in water purifiers or gas masks.’

Source: Construction waste to be turned into gas masks and sports equipment

TRA on Union Renovates with Recycled Building Materials – SouthSoundTalk

“We found it would be more economical for us to reuse some of these materials instead of throwing them away and buying new ones,” Coates explained. “I think we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment.”“We had done studies to figure out what would happen if we tore down the existing site,” said Doug McNutt, Principal with Salus Architecture. “We realized that, yes, we could do that. But if we kept the original, we’d not only save money, we’d create something quite amazing.”

Source: TRA on Union Renovates with Recycled Building Materials – SouthSoundTalk

Research looks at blight fight, recycling building materials – MiningJournal.net | News, Sports, Jobs, Marquette Information | The Mining Journal

The test site will be the western Michigan city of Muskegon, which researchers say has more than 3,000 abandoned residential and commercial properties. They want to look at whether traditional demolition is the best bet or if materials should be reused and repurposed.

Source: Research looks at blight fight, recycling building materials – MiningJournal.net | News, Sports, Jobs, Marquette Information | The Mining Journal

Recycled Kitchens, Salvaged Splendor – The New York Times

Jonathan and Barbara Pessolano’s kitchen from Green Demolitions in place, approximately. The couple also bought windows, subway tile and a marble mantel from other salvage stores. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

But after visiting the store, they bought an enormous used kitchen from a house in Upper Saddle River, N.J., this past April for $11,100. Green Demolitions estimated the kitchen would have set them back about $60,000 new.

via Recycled Kitchens, Salvaged Splendor – The New York Times.

Restoring Lakewood apartment on the cheap has been a labor of love for retiree: Cool Spaces (photos) | cleveland.com

Jackie Taylor, 63, hangs out with his dog Rufus inside his open kitchen in his upstairs flat that he has almost finished renovating in Lakewood. Taylor broke down a wall to the left to give the kitchen and open feel. The entire kitchen redo has only cost $2,000 with used materials, he said. (Lisa DeJong/The Plain Dealer)

He prides himself on creating an affordable vintage space where everything is restored, repaired and reused. Most of the materials came from Habitat for Humanity.

“At first I bought it as an investment,” says Taylor, who paid $200,000 for the building. “But after spending so much time here working on the apartments, I thought, ‘I really like it here.'”

Jackie Taylor had to scrape all the white paint off of the original woodwork which includes built-in bookcases and a bench in the living room of his 1920s apartment. (Lisa DeJong/The Plain Dealer)

via Restoring Lakewood apartment on the cheap has been a labor of love for retiree: Cool Spaces (photos) | cleveland.com.

Survey Says: More People Will Be Building with Recycled Building Materials This Spring – WSJ.com

The Wall Street Journal reported on building material reuse today. I say that is newsworthy!

Paul Hamtil of Hamtil Construction, a contractor in St. Louis, said, “As a rule, I know that most of our clients do care that we send as much demo material as possible to be salvaged, donated, or recycled. At the end of the day, whether using or donating recycled material, it brings a new level of satisfaction to the process of remodeling.”

via Survey Says: More People Will Be Building with Recycled Building Materials This Spring – WSJ.com.

A chance to upcycle at furniture store – Business – Weston Mercury

Mike Lock, aged 44, of West Street, Banwell, named the store Lock, Stock and Sparrow, a play on his surname and his partner’s, Kate Sparrow, and is drawing on his 10 years’ experience in furniture restoration to find and stock top pieces and creatively restore old furniture.

Mike opened the store after being made redundant from a similar shop in Bristol and searching without success for a new employer.

The business, based in Locking Moor Road, concentrates on ‘upcycling’ old furniture to give them a new lease of life and was opened by Weston mayor David Hitchins.

Mike said: “We live in a throw away society but many old things are far superior than the new equivalent.

“A testament to this is that much of the stock is over a hundred years old including pine boxes, wardrobes and chest of drawers.

“I am very passionate about recycling and upcycling. It is just a shame that people are so easily led to get rid of nice old things to make way for inferior new things.

“The feedback I am getting from customers is that there is nothing like this store in Weston, people have to go as far as Glastonbury or Wells. It is a well-received venture.”

via A chance to upcycle at furniture store – Business – Weston Mercury.

Construction: Increase Profits with Recycling and Reuse Best Practices

Construction managers’ success in recycling and repurposing materials/fixtures can make the difference on whether a construction project comes in on budget in today’s still-depressed construction industry. Two factors are driving this trend. The first is the increasing value real estate buyers and renters place upon green labeled buildings. In California a green labeled home sells for a 9 percent premium. In the commercial building market the increasing numbers of companies focused on operational efficiency has created a strong rental market for USGBC LEED certified buildings. A key feature of LEED certification and other green labeled buildings is the reuse of materials, fixtures and buildings.

Construction recycling/reuse best practices

The other major driver is a growing market in recycled materials and reusable fixtures. The construction industry uses more materials by weight than any other industry in the United States producing 325 million tons of recoverable construction and demolition materials. Approximately 8,000 lbs of waste are thrown into the landfill during the construction of a 2,000 square foot home. That is a lot of construction dollars that will either be lost to landfill tipping fees or gained by successfully selling this material for recycling or reuse.

Six-step plan for making money by recycling and reusing construction material

1. Think first.

Demolition by sledgehammer will cost you money. The first step to making money through recycling/reuse is to survey what is in the building and develop an inventory of materials that can be sold to recycling companies or can be reused. Then use the web and your phone to figure out who will pay for what in terms of reusable and recyclable material in the building industry. (See video below for a website that does this work for you!).

Also work with the architect on what can be recaptured for reuse in the new construction. This homework before the demolition crew arrives can increase a project’s margins and bid competitiveness. Many companies now target diverting at least 50 percent of their construction landfill waste and best-in-class operations like the St. Croix Habitat for Humanity Eco-Village target 90 percent landfill diversion.

2. Create a lay down area

What you plan to sell from the demolition process requires a lay down area just like new materials. And it should be similarly organized with designated areas and containers for the sorting of materials and fixtures. This will make it easier to count and take pictures of materials and fixtures, which will make them easier to sell. If your lay down area is the big mental container supplied by the waste management company, then you might as well go to the ATM and get some cash to throw in there too, since the more stuff you pitch in the dumpster the more of your potential profits go with it to the landfill.

3.Create crew buy-in

Managing waste requires the engagement of all of your trades people. If you expect them to handle your demolition materials and fixtures like the dollars they represent, then you have to train them, set performance expectations and motivate them.

4. Measure/report

If you don’t measure how your workers are doing on materials capture, then the odds are they won’t do it. Keep track of what is being done. Having a lay down area makes this much easier. Make sure to report the results to your crew.

5. Keep it local

The best place to recycle and reuse demolition material is on your job site. This is an increasingly attractive path for cost mitigation and for the potential aesthetics often conveyed through the repurposing of bricks, woods and refurbished fixtures.

A market for reusable construction materials/fixtures

The best news for construction contractors is that there is now a website where you can sell and buy reusable materials and fixtures called Planet Reuse. The following video interview with Founder Nathan Benjamin taken at the Sustainable Brands 2012 conference profiles best practices for making money through buying or selling reusable construction materials and fixtures:

See the entire article via Construction: Increase Profits with Recycling and Reuse Best Practices.

The Vision for Reuse – Reuse, Recycling, Building Materials, Construction Waste Recycling – EcoHome Magazine

The current president of the Building Materials Reuse Association has created a “bucket list” of what he hopes to see happen in the industry before he exits this world. A list that was published BMRA’s September 2011 newsletter, but one that is worth reprinting here. Thankfully, Napier was not only willing to share his list with Vision 2020, but give us a little insight into his vision as well.

Reports of high diversion rates and deconstruction efforts may be constantly popping up on Tom Napier’s news feed, but to him, this only proves how far we are from the ultimate goal. “When they stop making news, I think that’s when we are achieving something,” he says. “If the whole industry can migrate more toward conservation as a standard practice—as a matter of course—then we are getting some place.”

Bucket List Item 1:

The conflict between demolition and deconstruction disappears. The routine is to reuse what can be reused, recycle what can be recycled, and landfill the little bit that’s left.

“Buildings have to be demolished,” Napier admits. “That’s just a fact of life. What we are trying to do, once a decision is made for a building to come down, instead of the default being to put materials in a landfill or recycling the steel, there are additional avenues of conservation that can be practiced that are not as common as the mainstream. We just want to bring those into the tool kit as well.”

This, he adds, will require the construction industry to actually think about the best use case—and best life-cycle path—for materials. “The building across the street is being torn down, and the steel beams are being sent to China to be recycled into new steel beams that are going to be installed in the new, greener building across the street,” Napier quips. “It sounds ridiculous, but that isn’t a far off scenario.”

Bucket List Item 2:

Promoters of “green building” rating systems fully appreciate the impacts of waste and life-cycle benefits of materials reuse, and give full credit to reuse as a major contributor to sustainability.

Based on his own research, Napier has found that reusing materials could reduce the environmental impacts of water use, emissions to air, emissions to water, waste, and chemical releases up to 99%. “That’s almost a total reduction of adverse impacts compared to manufacturing new items,” Napier says. “That kind of an impact is not reflected in the point systems.”

He also says that today’s point systems focus too much on percentages and not enough on what is actually being done to the materials. For example, shredding perfectly good Douglas fir timbers and using them as alternate daily cover in a landfill counts every bit as much as extracting timbers, refinishing them, and using them in a timber-frame home or millwork.

“The path of least resistance becomes that which the point chasers exercise,” Napier says. “In a perfect world, there would be some kind of hierarchy—the closest use to the original form gets the most points and the farther you divert, or the more resources you put into making something different, then you get fewer points.”

Read the entire bucket list via The Vision for Reuse – Reuse, Recycling, Building Materials, Construction Waste Recycling – EcoHome Magazine.

Quantifying the Environmental Impact of Structural Materials with B-PATH

A new software tool from scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley Lab will help architects, engineers, and urban planners better assess and manage the environmental impacts of structural materials in commercial buildings.

The software tool, called the B-PATH model Berkeley Lab Building Materials Pathways, allows designers and builders to estimate the energy, resources, and environmental impacts associated with the manufacture of structural materials; their effects on the energy use of a building during operation; and their impacts when the building is ultimately demolished and its constituent materials are reused, recycled, or disposed of.

“Minimizing the environmental impacts of a building throughout its entire lifecycle is a promising way of reducing the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of buildings,” says Eric Masanet, the leader of the team that developed B-PATH.

“The key is having a tool grounded in sound science to perform a lifecycle analysis-the data analysis and systems mass and energy balance modeling techniques to estimate the inputs of fuels, materials, and resources and outputs of pollutants and waste associated with all relevant processes in the lifecycle of a product or service.”

In 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings accounted for nearly 20 percent of U.S. primary energy use, more than one-third of U.S. electricity use, and about 15 percent of U.S. direct natural gas use.

There are more than 4.6 million commercial buildings in the United States, with more than 64 billion square feet of floor space. According to a 2010 National Research Council report, the human health damages associated with the amounts of electricity and natural gas consumed by U.S. commercial buildings may be on the order of $20 billion per year.

The structure of a commercial building, such as its concrete or steel frame, uses a larger quantity of materials that require high energy per weight to manufacture than any other element of the building. A building design that uses the optimum amount of these building materials minimizes the energy required to manufacture them and helps to keep building costs down.

In the final phase of a buildings lifecycle, demolition and materials removal, the B-PATH model can help determine how improved reuse and recycling can reduce the energy costs of the structural materials in new buildings. Using the correct structural materials to maximize reuse and recycling helps minimize energy use, because using recycled building materials requires less energy than manufacturing new materials.

B-PATH allows users to model the use of a range of typical structural building materials like concrete, steel, and lumber from their production, transportation, and construction until their end-of-life processes. Users can define which fuels and how much electricity is used in each of these processes, throughout the lifecycle.

The method B-PATH uses to calculate results is transparent and public, so that its users can understand how the calculations were made. Users can model variations in production pathways that occur as a result of supply-chain configurations, geographical locations of plants, plant technology vintages, fuel mixes, logistics, and other materials pathway characteristics that can be unique to local and regional supply chains.

The model incorporates both current practice and best practice methods of manufacturing and construction to determine how they affect energy use. The user can tailor results to specific U.S. regions, which vary by climate, local and regional characteristics in materials supply chains, construction practices, and end-of-life pathways, as well as in the mix of fuels for electrical power supply sources and volume of water consumption.

Model results provide users with an estimate of a building materials lifecycle energy use and greenhouse gas footprint. By modeling different scenarios, users can identify the optimal strategy to better reduce the energy use and long-term environmental effects of a commercial building before even breaking ground.

via Quantifying the Environmental Impact of Structural Materials with B-PATH.

Creepy-cool village where every house is a musical instrument | Grist


In the Music Box, furniture and floors and cabinets all make music — or at very least, noise — and the structures they’re built into are largely made from salvaged materials. The “Lookout Tower” is an old spiral staircase, set with pipes from a church organ destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The “Echo Wall” is made of vibrating steel sheeting and springs, with an attached horn made of copper plumbing pipe. The “Noise Floor” is … a noise floor. There’s a musical rocking chair and a giant washtub bass. It’s like a hillbilly Burning Man, and it is awesome.


From trash to treasure | AspenTimes.com


Ward and Casal didn’t rely solely on Habitat for recycled materials for their house. A “sucker rod” from an oil rig provides support for the main stairs in their 2,200-square-foot house. The wood for the stair stringers and a massive wood beam came from a 100-year-old ice rink in Pennsylvania. Other interior finish wood was salvaged from a Pickle Barrel restaurant that closed.

The exterior of their house is partially covered with corrugated steel leftover from a ranch near Lenado. White siding was salvaged when the Aspen Square building was remodeled.

“Being a scrounger, I don’t like to see anything get thrown away,” said Ward, a carpenter by summer and foot alignment specialist by winter. He estimated that up to 75 percent of the materials for the house came from other structures — everything but the framing, sheetrock, concrete and roof.


“This house is a good example of what you can do with recycling. The thing that makes it cool is it’s all used,” Ward said. “It should be illegal that stuff ends up in Dumpsters.”

via From trash to treasure | AspenTimes.com.

Reuse Building Materials and Give Old Supplies New Life | AsanteGeorge.com

reuse building materialsDuring a conversation with a friend of mine who lives in the southern US, I learned that her cousin built her entire home out of materials she collected from old buildings. By salvaging and reusing materials, my friend’s cousin was able to construct her own home on a very strict budget.

Ever the green artist, this thought intrigued and excited me. Not only is it eco-friendly, but with rent and mortgage costs increasing, the thought that it is possible to reuse building materials to construct a comfortable home was a revelation.

Why Reuse Building Materials?

Using reclaimed materials is one of the most sustainable ways to acquire materials for a home or building. Not only is it conservative on the pocket book, but reusing building materials saves resources, conserves landfill space, and prevents deforestation.

Preserving Useful Supplies

In order to resuse building materials, a building must be deconstructed in a way that maintains the integrity of the supplies. This process is different from demolition in which a site is cleared quickly and by any means. Deconstruction takes into account a building’s life cycle and aims to give materials a new life once the building is no longer in use.

Commonly reused building materials include wood, fixtures, sinks, bricks, windows, and cement. Many proponents of recycled materials claim the reused supplies add a sense of history and art to a new structure. It may also provide an opportunity to reuse building materials that were made in an era where standards of craftsmanship were very high. However, construction materials aren’t the only things recycled into homes and structures.

One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s…Temple?

Structures made from reused materials come in many beautiful shapes and forms. There are modern homes made from shipping containers, a Buddhist temple in Thailand made from over one million beer bottles, Aluminum cans upcylced into aluminum siding, and silos made into comfortable prefab homes. All of these structures make something beautiful and functional out of, well, garbage.

Old barns and condemned buildings are full of value if they are responsibly deconstructed and reused. Bottles and cans that fill so many trash and recycling bins can become an affordable and beautiful home or greenhouse. Reuse building material; it’s sustainable and artistic, and it allows quality construction supplies to live again.

via Reuse Building Materials and Give Old Supplies New Life | AsanteGeorge.com.