Monday, June 28, 2010

Recycling Homes Should be a Matter of Conscience, Not Stimulus Money

USA Today recently reported that recycling homes is becoming a booming enterprise, citing a trend toward deconstruction rather than demolition. One of our competitors and my former colleague, Ted Reiff, goes on to mention that the heightened interest may be due to stimulus funding. 

Though at its core, Reiff’s perspective may seem highly cynical; I’m hoping he didn’t intend it as such. Taken without the benefit of the doubt, Reiff seems to suggest that interest in deconstruction has not increased because people and local governments think it’s simply better to reuse and recycle, and that communities are sincerely interested in better methods and building practices, rather, the suggestion is that he (and everyone else) is really just following and spending the public’s money, and that interest in deconstruction will wane after the money is spent.

Hopefully the real reason behind the heightened interest in deconstruction (and the subsequent Federal Stimulus monies being spent on Mr. Bennick’s and Mr. Reiff’s training programs) comes from the more honest desire of peoples and communities around the country to find out ways in which to waste less.

I’ll give Reiff and his motives for offering training the benefit of the doubt, but I’d also be curious what his and other training programs really entail, and who is defining “deconstruction?”

To Deconstruction & ReUse Network and TRP (Reiff’s org), deconstruction is removing all of the usable building materials, when possible, down to and including the rough lumber. To others, it’s removing some building materials for reuse. To us, the latter is called “selective salvage,” something that has been going on in the construction and demolition industry for decades and decades. Selective salvage will always have its appropriate place, but only real deconstruction takes time and investment and should be more strictly defined as a comprehensive dismantling endeavor.

Dave Bennick and Ted Reiff both train people to facilitate some form of deconstruction through local government programs and elsewhere, but it’s safe to say, they’re not necessarily teaching the same strategies and methodologies. The time has come for those involved with the various forms of deconstruction to begin to establish a consensus  - a “best standards and practices” benchmark.

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Deconstruction And Buildingmaterials Reuse Network Inc