Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reincarnation by means of Deconstruction and Downsizing

We came across this article on Mother Nature Network, which describes the Reincarnated McMansion Project while drawing a parallel between this Australian undertaking and DRN’s own recent Beverly Hills deconstruction project. The McMansion Project is utilizing the process of deconstruction and is salvaging those reusable home materials; the goal: to dismantle a plus-size single home in order to create two new, energy efficient, green-dwellings boasting zero-emissions.

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wayne County, Michigan Opts for Deconstruction of Abandoned Homes

Posted by Lyndsy Czapla (DRN Intern)

Abandoned homes are often an eye sore in communities and many times end up on the path to demolition. It is apparent, however, that times are changing and better alternatives are being put to use. Wayne County, Michigan is setting a prime example of how opting for deconstruction instead of demolition of abandoned homes positively impacts the entire community.

Wayne County, along with Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit and the Architectural Salvage Warehouse, has started a pilot program where abandoned homes are being deconstructed, "starting with the roof and ending at the foundation." The program is geared towards creating a greener economy in the state of Michigan while realizing the revitalization of local neighborhoods. One of the abandoned homes that has been recently deconstructed employed 14 people from Goodwill's Flip the Script program; a program that helps minority men from the Detroit area obtain jobs and work towards bettering their lives. The deconstruction project not only helped the actual people who participated, but also benefited the local residents as well.

For the full article, click here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

California's Universities LEEDing the Way in Green Building: Event Hosted by UC Santa Barbara Marks 8th Annual UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference

Posted by Shannon Avison (DRN Intern)

A little less than a month ago, from June 21st-24th, UC Santa Barbara hosted the 8th annual UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference. This event served as a meeting ground for collaboration and discussion of trends, hurdles and cutting edge technologies promoting sustainability under the heading "Working our way to Zero: potable water for landscapes, volatile organic compounds, GHG emissions, virgin paper, waste. The event included tours, workshops, and keynote addresses as well as smaller presentations identified as "tracks" on energy, food systems, green building new construction, green building operations, maintenance, and renovations, health, sustainability and climate action planning, business, social equity, student affairs, waste reduction and recycling, and water.

This event demonstrates the continuing commitment of California universities towards sustainability and eco-minded applications. Highlights from the green building tracks included talks within Green Building New Construction where a UC Davis professor describes his experience with the Brewery, Winery, and Foot Pilot Building and how it relates to the role of an academic client. A Stanford presenter examines the new Yang and Yamazaki Environment + Energy Building (Y2E2), a lab, classroom, and office building through a cost-benefit analysis.

And lastly, project managers of the UC San Francisco Green Building Team discuss steps taken within Capital Programs striving for both LEED certification and LEED Silver status or higher on all projects thereby promoting a "business as usual" green building ethic. In another presentation, with the management of a $5.7 Billlion construction bond program, the San Diego Community College District promotes LEED districtwide with its Green Building Policy and Major Renovation Standards and likewise the California State University Program for Environmental Responsibility has developed an integrated building design approach to be implemented statewide.

Further presentations identifying sustainable practices in green building were present in the Green Building Operation, Maintenance, and Renovation Track. Talk highlights included discussions around sustainable operations for LEEDTM for Existing Buildings, Operations & Maintenance (LEED EBOM). Case studies were presented, exemplifying how UC Santa Barbara has approached the greening of its building portfolio, with both new, LEED Platinum rated Bren Hall, and existing buildings, LEED Certified Girvetz Hall. UC San Diego has also promoted sustainable practices through encouraging students to be activists through establishing their Green Campus Program where they provide opportunities for students on LEED project teams. The UC Policy on Sustainable Practices was also identified which mandates all UC renovation projects exceeding a $5 million budget to maintain at least the equivalent of a LEEDTM for Commercial Interiors Certified rating. Specific case studies of the green building progress made by UC Davis and UC San Francisco, using the LEEDTM CI system were identified as well. The last presentation identified The Building Sustainability @ Cal Program which works to reduce the environmental footprint of campus buildings through using students to raise awareness of building inhabitants and identifying structural and operational changes that can be implemented in buildings and campus-wide. At UC Santa Barbara, a program called PACES analyzes present office methods and makes recommendations to allow for evolution towards current achievable sustainable office standards from student groups.

This annual Sustainability Conference continues to perpetuate the green building movement within both California universities and the green building sector as a whole through education, research, and implementation of current LEED and green building practices. It is through this commitment to education and green building which not only promotes creative thinking about green building, but also allows a broader application of green building techniques throughout academic institutions and communities statewide.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why Wouldn't You Choose Deconstruction?

Posted by Timna Zemel (DRN Intern)

Sometimes it can be challenging getting homeowners on board with deconstruction. I can’t understand why anybody would choose to demolish instead of deconstruct. Deconstruction can save homeowners money in the long run, with a tax write-off for donated reusable materials; deconstruction is safer than demolition; it’s good for the environment and the donated materials help other families live in decent, affordable homes.

Some possible explanations for a homeowner’s apprehension may be:

  • Inconvenience: A huge wrecking ball can get the job done much quicker. But this method of demolition is dangerous and wasteful. That huge pile of rubble that was formerly your home goes straight to your landfill.
  • Lack of Information: Do you realize that demolition increases the amount of construction and demolition materials in local landfills? Some are quick to assume you don’t care, but perhaps you just don’t know that 34 billion tons of construction wastes ends up in the landfill each year. Deconstructing a 2,500 sq ft home can divert 25 tons of building materials.
  • Education: Many homeowners probably do not realize that deconstruction is an option. Deconstruction is a fairly new trend that only started getting popular a few years ago. The deconstruction word needs to spread, but probably because of its infrequent use (most people do not renovate their house often), the word is taking a while to get around.
Many cities are adopting strict new green building guidelines so this is all worth learning about because you may not have a choice at all in the future, you may have to deconstruct & reuse if you remodel or build. But why wait until "everyone’s doing it" - choose to be a leader. Instead of being that neighbor with the awful roll-off out front, you can be the really generous family that's recycling their house to help others in the community.

Want to learn more, visit our website to learn about the facts and misconceptions about Deconstruction.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We Need Your Help Choosing a New Logo

Please let us know which logo you like best and vote (over there on the right side of the blog.)





Friday, July 17, 2009

Whole Foods Market Greens Distribution Center

Posted By Lyndsy Czapla (DRN Intern)

Whole Foods Market is getting a whole lot greener these days. The grocery company's recently built distribution center in Braselton, GA is setting a bar for greener practices in the business world. The 114,000 square foot building exemplifies the Whole Foods mission of embodying an environmentally friendly company. By first sight of the distribution center, it is obvious that it is not just another industrial building with its wooden facade and sprawling picture windows. Around the building and its parking lot, there are several lush fruit trees in the orchard and a garden that boasts several plants including; squash, potatoes, corn, herbs, and much more. Since most industrial buildings are pretty "blah", this Whole Foods distribution center really stands out. The 113 employees at the center have great pride in the exterior since they were the ones who planted all of it. All of the food grown at the center is either used for the employees or donated to a local food bank. As for any food that is not sold in the 18 stores that the center serves; it is sent back to the Braselton to get composted and turned into mulch for resell or other vendors. Beyond the exterior, the interior and the overall structure is very green. When the center was being built, materials such as steel, carpeting, and concrete were reused to construct it. All of the center's monumental lighting and its water heater are powered by solar energy. To read the full article, click here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two Homes Being Recycled in the Bay Area

A quick update on 2 projects currently underway in the Bay Area:

A 1,242 square-foot home in Palo Alto on Everett Ave is being deconstructed by V’s Demolition Inc. and it's got some very nice kitchen cabinets with granite counter tops; single panel doors; double hung windows; laminated wooden flooring; redwood siding and rough sawn lumber.

Another home project is in Pleasanton on Country Lane and this one is being deconstructed by R & J Construction Inc. The home has very nice wooden kitchen cabinets; double-pane windows and sliding patio doors; plantation shutters throughout; wooden panel walls and ceiling. This home is 2,544 square-feet and is expected to be completed by July 20. You can see photos of this one in our online gallery.

All of these items are being carefully removed, sorted and will be donated for reuse to local area Habitat for Humanity ReStores & Corazon. If you have questions about your city's green building guidelines and deconstruction in California, please contact us.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Living in the Trees

Posted by Emily Busch (DRN Intern)

Architect, Peter Bahouth , wanted to create a retreat. Instead of going out, he went up. He built himself an extravagant tree house made up of open air rooms connected by a series of bridges. The house is not only innovative in design but in materials use. The house was built out of predominately reused doors and windows. Check out this video.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spreading the Word about ReUse in So Cal

Special thanks going out to Brad Pomerance for having me on his CNN Local Edition show - we truly appreciate the added exposure!

Tales of Creative Reuse

Calmax presents a collection of stories about people reusing things in remarkable ways. Mannequins, burlap sacks, and guardrails all make re-appearances in theses ecotales. Check them out here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Will Use Less...Chevron Oil

Posted by Timna Zemel (DRN Intern)

Despite Chevron's best efforts at convincing us it's an environmentally progressive company, I am convinced it's an ecological predator in green guise. “Yes, we produce, refine, manufacture, and sell oil, but we’re actually just tapping the power of human energy,” is Chevron’s slogan. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but billboards displaying sentences such as, “I will leave the car at home,” and “I will use less energy,” make a passerby wonder whether they just saw an advertisement for Chevron or the Sierra Club.

So I was pleased to read in Reuters this past week that while Chevron may have succeeded in fooling countless American consumers, they have not succeeded in hoodwinking a California state judge. On Thursday the judge “ordered Chevron Corp. to halt a $1 billion project aimed at expanding the types of crude oils its San Francisco Bay-area refinery in Richmond, California, can process.” As it turns out, Chevron’s plants do cause immensely significant environmental damage! Who would have thought, that the hydrogen plants that Chevron claims as an “alternative” energy source in its commercials actually do not abate pollution at all, but just allow the oil refineries to run cheaper, heavier grades of crude oil that “reduce costs and increase profits”?

I only hope that the actual news gets more publicity than Chevron’s advertising campaign, and that the average consumer takes the time to read an article instead of just another “I will …” sentence.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reclaimed Mahogany Bench - Great Reuse!

This Flat Bench uses mahogany reclaimed from local manufacturers, eliminating waste and avoiding use of virgin cut lumber. Stainless steel base fits design themes that the concrete version may not, and it's a bit lighter too. The bench packs flat for reduced shipping cost and energy and is easy to assemble.

It's well suited for public spaces, lobbies, outdoor, gardens, entry ways, etc.

There are several other products on the site that are similarly targeted and worth checking out.

I'll be on Big Blend Radio this Saturday with HGTV's Jared Walker Dostie


Tune in: Big Blend Radio's "Garden Gossip" show
Saturday, July 11 at 10 am PDT

Join Jared Walker Dostie (HGTV's "Rate My Space") and me for a lively discussion about Recycling, Refurbishing & Rethinking with Nancy & Lisa on Big Blend Radio's home show, "Garden Gossip."

If you miss it, I'll post the archive here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

US Government May Bulldoze 50 Cities; Create More Green Space

Posted by Blake Holt (DRN Intern)

Yeesh what a headline: "US Government May Bulldoze 50 Cities; Create More Green Space". If we are going through the trouble to downsize these cities and create more green spaces in them, why not deconstruct instead and reuse the materials?

Check out this article on

Monday, July 6, 2009

Recycling…as American as Apple Pie

Came across this great blog post over the holiday weekend...enjoy!

Recycling…as American as Apple Pie

What is patriotic? Fighting for one’s country is patriotic, flag-waving is patriotic, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is patriotic. Now, let’s think outside the bin (sorry, recycling humor) to something you do everyday. That’s right. Every time you reduce, reuse and recycle you’re celebrating your love for your country.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thirsty, Anyone? A guide to getting through the drought

Posted by Timna Zemel (DRN Intern)

California is in its third year of drought. The water shortage has become so dire, in fact, that on June 19th, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requested that President Obama declare Fresno County a federal disaster area because of the drought’s strain on the area’s agricultural industry. In a letter that the governor sent to the president, Schwarzenegger explained that water managers have been working on developing various long-term strategies to address the problem. Indeed, many of the issues feeding into the water problem are out of our immediate control, such as climate change, environmental regulations to protect endangered freshwater fish, and population growth. However, I want to focus on one of the strategies Schwarzenegger mentioned that Californians—with a little bit of effort—can implement: “increase water conservation to meet [his] plan to reduce individual water use by 20 percent.”

Many Californians do not seem to realize that “California had only 53 percent of its normal rainfall in 2007, and 58 percent in 2008, and has had only 77 percent this year,” according to the New York Times. Some suggestions for the average citizen:
• Yes, it’s hot, but get out of your backyard swimming pool. According to USA Swimming and the National Swimming Pool Foundation, there are approximately 10 million swimming pools in the United States, and the average backyard pool is full at 25,000 gallons. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise and a fun way to cool down during the summer, but join your neighbors at the local public pool instead of adding to California’s recreational water usage with each private backyard pool.
• Who decided that sprawling green lawns were the standard of landscape beauty? A single square foot of grass can absorb about 46 gallons of irrigation water each year, and if you live in a single-family home, 50% or more of the water you use every day may be going to your lawn or landscaping. Some Californians are opting for artificial turf instead of water-guzzling lawns, but Californians should also plant plants that suit their surrounding environment. For instance, in the desert climate of Los Angeles, a cactus garden would be much more appropriate than an expansive lawn.
• Flush with caution. According to, your toilet is the largest water user inside your home. Traditional inefficient toilets (pre-1990s basic white models) use 3.5 to 5 or more gallons of water each time they are flushed, whereas “Ultra Low Flow Toilets” (ULFTs) use only 1.6 gallons per flush, and Newer “High-Efficiency Toilets” (HETs) use as little as 1.28 to .8 gallons per flush. I know the economy is tough right now, but many water agencies will provide rebates for HETs that could cover a big part of the cost to change out your toilets. If you are really strapped for cash and absolutely cannot afford a new toilet, then just remember that you don’t have to flush every time. It might sound a bit distasteful to those who aren’t used to extreme water conservation, but only a Number Two really requires a flush; Number Ones can wait.
Deconstruction And Buildingmaterials Reuse Network Inc