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Deconstructing for dollars: Recycling building materials can mean more than simply salvaging light fixtures


Source: bizjournals.com

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - by Brad Broberg Contributing Writer

To Thomas Nielsen, an old 2-by-4 is a terrible thing to waste -- or even recycle.

So when workers begin removing hundreds of timeworn public housing units to prepare for redeveloping the High Point community in West Seattle, Nielsen hopes to dismantle -- not destroy -- as many buildings as possible.

"No one's really tried it at this scale before," says Nielsen a project manager with the Seattle Housing Authority.

The process is called deconstruction. And while selective salvaging and/or recycling have long been part of the demolition process, total deconstruction is the latest -- and greenest -- way to go.

"The essence of deconstruction is to extract the embodied energy of all of the materials you encounter through the course of a demolition project," says Jim Primdahl, a deconstruction consultant from Portland.

To some, that might sound like so much New Age sawdust. In fact, say proponents, it makes perfect sense -- dollars and cents.


Think about it, says Primdahl. How much energy -- labor, power and other resources -- goes into making a building material? Recycling those products may divert them from the landfills, but recycling demands a fresh investment of energy to render those materials reusable, either as reconstituted versions of their original selves or as entirely different products.

That's why deconstruction represents such an attractive alternative to traditional demolition. If a bulldozer flattens a structure, the building materials can -- at best -- only be recycled. However, if a trained crew systematically dismantles it right down to the ground, many of the materials -- not just the fixtures and finishes that typically are salvaged -- can be returned to the marketplace.

"That's the whole beauty of the deconstruction process," says Jim Jensen, development and community relations manager at The Restore. "It not only keeps materials out of the landfill, it keeps their value."

With locations in Ballard and Bellingham, The Restore is a nonprofit used building materials supplier that gleans its inventory by also being in the salvage and deconstruction business. Salvage and deconstruction are related, but distinct processes. Salvage generally involves removing only choice reusable materials at no cost to either party. On the other hand, deconstruction typically involves disposal of the entire structure -- through reuse, recycling or dumping -- but generates a fee for whoever does the work.

Recently, The Restore teamed with Primdahl and a nonprofit operation he founded to conduct a pilot deconstruction project at High Point.

DeConstruction Services, a division of the ReBuilding Center in Portland, dismantled a duplex and The Restore collected the materials. The Restore then determined the market value of the materials so the Seattle Housing Authority could compare the cost/benefits of deconstruction versus traditional demolition.

Read More at bizjournals.com

Click here to learn how you can make the money that you need and want in this home-based business.

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Michael Meuser bootstrapped his way into the salvage and recycling business in the early 1980s. He began with building deconstruction and scrap metals and then moved into electronics, computer and telecommunications scrap where he learned to recover gold and other precious metal.
Michael tells his story, provides resources and offers his advice at his website, RecyclingSecrets.com, and his blog, Recycling Secrets Blog. Recently Mike completed the eBook How to Make Money in the Home Based Salvage and Recycling Business. It is a chronicle of his experiences, successes and failures in the business. Also, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

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