Western New York’s Largest Supplier of Reclaimed & Surplus Building Material

Building ReUse Special Forces…

The building reuse industry is growing, getting more attention, and becoming a more realistic option for developers, architects, and homeowners.

Buffalo Deconstruction Contractors, ReUse Action and Buffalo ReUse, shared their expertise and learning experiences yesterday as participants and presenters at the 3rd Annual Deconstruction Summit in Syracuse.

The old team reunites in Syracuse! Peter Riphahn, Kevin Hayes &  Michael Gainer
The old team reunites in Syracuse! Peter Riphahn, Kevin Hayes & Michael Gainer

While I was serving at Buffalo ReUse, we submitted a bid package to deconstruct eighteen residential structures as part of the Syracuse University School of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF) campus expansion.   While ESF ultimately opted for demolition with a very challenging construction timeline, our involvement and expertise was given praise yesterday by construction mangers, Hueber-Breuer.  After witnessing the “missed opportunity”, ESF students approached SU officials to make the case for green demolition in the second phase of the project.  Their extensive research and arguments were presented at the 3rd Annual Deconstruction Summit yesterday. Here’s a link to their report (6MB PDF).

There were many questions posed that related to the feasibility of deconstruction/green demolition; its associated costs; and the ecological/social benefits.  Our responses and reflections from over four years worth of experience played a crucial role in persuading officials from ESF that green demolition could be a feasible option, one that preserved unique materials, without busting the projects budget.

While phase two is unlikely to get rolling until Summer 2012, it’s best when considering green demolition that reuse practitioners are involved in the decision-making early on.  The more information developers and architects, officials, and builders have in advance, the greater the possibilities for increasing the material reuse outcomes for the project.

While praise should be given to the open-mindedness and diligence of ESF’s staff, the students should be given the credit for bringing this opportunity to the attention of SU officials.  Their commitment to and belief in green demolition as a tool in the green building process, makes the complete dismantlement of 11 structures next summer a real possibility.  It was discussed during the round table discussion that the paradigm shift in how we think about ecological responsibility starts with the cumulative small actions of students, citizens, and people who are both caring and determined.  The fruits of these actions were evident at the summit yesterday and through our dialogue we were all witness to the strengthening of the reuse industry.