Green building standards recommend the use of recycled materials in new construction, and some even require a certain percentage. Some of these certification systems include LEED, Green Globes, or Living Building Challenge. This can be accomplished in many ways. Often, you will see “new” products that are crafted using recycled materials. Unfortunately, some items that are more difficult to recycle just end up in landfills. What about all the sinks, door knobs, and molding that are torn out of older homes when renovations are being done? A lot of that material is thrown out. As much as 160 tons per year according to the EPA.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is using those recycled materials in their new constructions. When many of these materials are still perfectly useful and functioning, there’s no reason they should be doomed to a life sitting in a landfill. Over the past year, they have been dumpster diving for usable building materials to use on the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Foundation is aiming to get LEED platinum status, as well as certification from the Living Building Challenge. Christy Everett, The foundations Hampton Roads director, lists some of the materials they were able to salvage and use for the new construction.
For the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, CBF used sinks, doors, mirrors, counters, and cabinets from office buildings that were about to be remodeled or torn down. They were salvaged, recycled, and will find new life in the Brock Center. Creatively, old wooden school bleachers were saved and deconstructed so the material could be used as trim for the new center’s doors and windows. Maple flooring in the gymnasium of a former elementary school was removed, reinstalled, and resurfaced to be the new flooring in the center. Used bike racks came from a local parks department and will be installed on the exterior of the building.Hundreds of champagne corks were collected to be used as knobs and pulls in the center’s cabinets and drawers. Student art tables from the school will be used as counter tops, and old wooden paneling will be made into cabinets.
Many of these items likely came from connections to other contractors that were planning to get rid of materials (rather than going from dumpster to dumpster in search of usable items) but the important thing is they are recycled materials. If you know of a business or a family who is planning to do remodeling or construction on their home or building, why not ask to have their materials? Or you could suggest that they be donated to a foundation much like CBF. Major props to The Chesapeake Bay Foundation for thinking outside the box for a greener planet. They meet and exceed the standards for green buildings, and likely save a lot of money in the process.
The Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach is set to open up soon. You can get an overview of the building in this vimeo video. Do you know about any other building projects that used materials saved from ending up in the landfills? Let us know and we would love to write about it.