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Deconstruction, not demolition; ‘green’ demolition, retail center opens: Nonprofit expects to divert, reuse 1,500 tons of demolition materials in first two years

Release Date: 05/09/2008
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute Ph: 213/798-1404 arcaute.francisco@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today celebrated the grand opening of a Southern California “green” demolition and retail warehouse for San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit The Reuse People of America.

With funding from the EPA awarded in 2006, the Reuse People of America used the $50,000 grant to open and operate a building materials reuse retail warehouse in the city of Los Angeles. The nonprofit expects to divert and reuse 1,500 tons of demolition materials during the first two years of the warehouse opening. The facility is large enough to accommodate all materials from the Reuse People’s deconstruction projects in the greater L.A. area.

The non-profit has a full-time deconstruction crew that salvages construction materials by carefully disassembling buildings and homes, using hand tools to take them apart brick by brick, board by board, and beam by beam -- including appliances. The reusable materials are redistributed, via the warehouse, including as much as 80 percent of the finished materials and rough lumber.

“Shifting from demolition and disposal to deconstruction and reuse provides substantial climate change benefits,” said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By reusing 30 tons of building materials from just one home, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 5 cars off the road for a year. From home remodeling to major demolition, each of us has an opportunity to reduce our climate change impact by reusing and recycling building materials.”

More than 160 million tons of building-related construction and demolition materials are generated each year and most of those materials are unnecessarily disposed in landfills rather than reused.

Who benefits?
• Everyone, through a cleaner environment:
• Homeowners, who receive tax deductions for donated houses/building materials;
• Builders and contractors, through better service to clients;
• Local governments, by increasing the life of existing landfills; and
• Consumers/families who cannot afford to buy new.

The Reuse People of America is a non-profit organization that reduces the solid waste stream by keeping usable building materials out of landfills and distributing them for reuse. The nonprofit operates building materials reuse and exchange facilities in Northern and Southern California. Since its inception in 1993, the Reuse People has diverted over 250,000 tons of building materials from California’s waste stream.

The Reuse People sells its materials for cents on the dollar by salvaging materials using its own crews and the efforts of Reuse People-certified deconstruction contractors, and donates 10 percent of its annual surplus to local non-profit organizations.

For more information on the EPA’s second annual Lifecycle Building Challenge -- a competition aimed at architects, builders and students to elicit promising new ideas for designing buildings for cost-effective disassembly and adapting them for changing uses of the buildings – visit: http://www.lifecyclebuilding.org.

View a video "The ReUse People"

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