Archive for Transforming the building industry

How The RE Store Was Created 1991-1994

Storefront compilation 1999-2013 The Bellingham RE Store opened its doors in 1993 at the corner of Kellogg and Meridian, and the Seattle location opened in 1999. Jack Weiss, a council member for the city of Bellingham, recently recalled how The RE Store was created. When Jack was working as the Whatcom County Waste Reduction and Recycling Coordinator in the early 1990s, he hired Jeff Brown as a consultant to write the County Solid Waste Management Plan. Jeff Brown was then the executive director of the non-profit Environmental Resource Services (ERS), which later became RE Sources, the parent organization of The RE Store. According to Jack, Jeff was integral in his role as the brainchild of many of ERS’s early endeavors. The same could be said about Carol Rondello, who was Jeff’s go-to for both ideas and implementation. There were a number of others back then who also deserve credit in the evolution of what eventually became The RE Store, but Jeff and Carol carried most of the water. At that time, Jeff’s plan had the weight that state growth management plans do today. A few chapters of that plan provided the framework to counter the business-as-usual approach by the waste management industry. The plan was a couple of years in the making and was finally approved in 1994. The plan went on to become a template for other counties in the state. Jack marveled that he’d “never seen any plan on any subject that was as comprehensive and forward-looking as that one.” Back in 1991, Jeff brought the idea of a reusable material exchange operation to Jack after having seen the initial success of Urban Ore in Berkeley and Hippo Hardware in Portland. During the next 18 months, the two spent quite a bit of time fleshing out the idea to the point of searching the county and city for storefront sites for a county-run operation. The idea in its purest form was to accept materials from the public or contractors prior to disposal but also to scavenge the tip floor at the two incinerators and pull out reusable items. Jack hired ERS to do a survey of what was possible on the tip floor, because the true intent of this type of operation was waste diversion, and ERS knew their stuff. Jack decided to take $30,000 out of a grant award he’d received and apply it toward seed money for a material exchange through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process. They received two responses to the RFP: one from ERS and another from County Construction Recyclers (CCR—a demolition landfill off of Hemmi Road in Bellingham, which is now closed). CCR had a good proposal, but Jack chose ERS because of their philosophical understanding of the RFP purpose. The focus was on waste diversion rather than money. Carl Weimer, now a Whatcom County council member, had at the time become the next director of ERS. After Jack signed off on the contract, Carl secured the site on Meridian where The RE Store now stands and hired Bruce Odom as manager. Ultimately, the launch of The RE Store was the result of many hands. “The one regret I have about The RE Store,” says Jack, “is that it never did fully explore waste diversion opportunities on tip floors of all types of waste, but it did establish a great salvaging operation for building materials.” As we celebrated 20 years this month, we remember Jeff Brown, Jack Weiss, Carol Rondello, Carl Weimer, Bruce Odum and everyone else who made the creation of The RE Store possible.

Posted in: Green business, Reference and resources, Stories about people, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Why blog about The RE Store?

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New Arrival – A Trusty Steed for Seattle Operations

2013-new-blue-box-truck1-webIts a boy, no wait, its a girl, no, its a diesel box truck with a lift gate! We have concluded our Truck Fund Raising Campaign that has been going since November of 2012. The new box truck with a lift gate is now serving us well in the Seattle operations. Of course, it is a used vehicle. It even came in a shade of blue. The new truck’s name is still pending but we welcome this beast of burden to the RE family.

This is huge – giving us a more reliable truck fleet to better serve you and communities throughout Washington State. Our salvage crews come to your job site, home, business, storage space or your grandpa’s crazy old barn to pick up and salvage materials. These busy bees visit over 1200 job sites each year. If the trucks break down, the crews end up wasting time and money, losing efficiency and materials. 2013 new blue box truckThat takes away from the 5 million pounds of material that The RE Store diverts every year from being wasted. Those materials also save you money when you go to buy supplies for your remodel, decoration or art project.

We have been helping transform the building industry’s practices that generate one-quarter of all trash in the U.S.. Our crews are the back up that contractors need to reduce disposal fees on job sites, saving supplies to be reused. This is how we have created our jobs at The RE Store from what would have been garbage. This is how we are moving the reuse revolution forward.

And we thank you for your help.

 

Posted in: Green business, Notes From the Field, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry

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A Young RE Store Rockstar builds her own Tiny House of Salvage

Celina's tiny house under constructionThis RE Store Rockstar is one industrious young lady.  Celina Dill, 17, is building her 10’ x 18’ x 14’ high tiny house, on wheels, entirely out of reused and repurposed materials. Inspired by the Tiny House Movement she is ‘unschooling’ herself by diving into all the trades it takes to make a project like this come to life.

She is an obsessed builder right now, with the goal of moving into her cottage in August. Items acquired from The RE Store include: “The Toilet of her Dreams” (really!), which has a 3/4″ tilt on the lid area; her ‘really cool’ front door, which is being refinished as we speak; a window or two, and the latest purchase: French doors. Since Celina’s walls are thinner than the walls the door set came from, they needed to do some tricky Skilsawing of the frame, reducing their width by 1 1/2″. She has also acquired items from Second Use, Earthwise, and Skagit Building Salvage.

I’ll let her words tell the rest of the story, since among her many talents are great story telling and photography.  More about Celina’s Tiny Abode can be found at http://mytinyabode.blogspot.com/. Many pictures of her project can be seen on these pages.

It seems Celina comes from a long line of industrious folks.  Her dad, Walter Dill, also has a ‘home on wheels’ project in the works – a 1956 Airfloat Land Yacht.  He uses reclaimed materials as well, and found lights for the interior at The RE Store that have yet to found their actual location.

Thanks to both Celina and Walter for inspiring us with their Rockstar Projects!  Do you have a RE Store-inspired project to be proud of?  Please, show off & share your story!

Posted in: RE Store Rockstar Project, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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Building Deconstruction, Green Demolition and Decon ’13

State Street warehouse seriesIf someone asked you what deconstruction is, would you respond:

  1. A complex philosophical movement about meaning that started in France in the 1960’s
  2. A new way of salvaging construction supplies from structures that are being demolished
  3. The age-old method of recovering useful building materials from an existing building

If you answered 3, you are correct. The Roman Empire dismantled and reused ancient Egyptian architectural elements and other building materials over 2000 years ago. They repurposed construction supplies, known as spolia, from throughout the many lands they conquered. Building deconstruction has become a movement in North America over the last 2 decades. The top five reasons are:

  1. Green building has become well-documented as a wiser way to build and remodel structures for all types of use
  2. Resources and commodities have increased in cost
  3. Waste disposal has become more expensive
  4. Design and decor trends have grown the public interest in reclaimed materials
  5. The “D.I.Y.” movement has become hugely popular across television, radio, print and online channels

Decon 13 logoThe deconstruction movement is spreading as businesses, tool research and development, national conferences and case studies all add fuel to the fire. The deconstruction industry’s largest conference, Decon ’13 is hosted by the Building Materials Reuse Association. The event happens this week in Seattle with a wide range of topics that include:

  • Designing for buildings to be deconstructed
  • Historic preservation
  • Deconstruction work force training and education
  • Use of low-value materials
  • Negotiating and permitting deconstruction projects
  • The RE Store’s REvision Division will present our innovative and award-winning furniture building program

You would be hard pressed to find a better source of information, best practices, great networking and much more. Come and be a part of the movement this week, whether you are a builder, architect, demolition contractor, salvager, government project manager, politician or average joe working to stay abreast of the latest building industry trends. The RE Store has over 13 years of experience taking down buildings, including case studies on our website. Contact us today for a bid on your project. What topics would you like to learn about, in regards to deconstruction?

Posted in: Green business, Reference and resources, Stories about contractors, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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Outdoor Cinemas, Flying Beds & Funky Junk at NW Flower & Garden Show

Flower and Garden Show Booth CollageDid you ever ride on a flying bed made from old stair stringers and reclaimed fir posts at the NW Flower and Garden Show? If you didn’t get a chance to see it in person, we had a suspended day bed from which to watch the movie screen on the side of the “house” with salvaged beveled siding. Cabinet drawers arranged around the bed were filled with various bedding annuals and perennials. An outdoor kitchen sported one of the much acclaimed “Big Green Egg” hybrid grill/oven/smoker and a nice used cook top. Random reclaimed rummagings were used for planters and a vertical pallet garden filled out the vignette.

The Flower & Garden Show seminars are always a big highlight, bringing experts on a wide variety of experts on gardening, plants, garden design, food and more.  We proposed two seminars this year and were chosen as two of the 85 speakers from almost 250 proposals.

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us at the Flower and Garden Show this year – it is always great to meet new folks and catch up up with old friends! We had a great time designing and building this booth – this year’s theme was an “Outdoor Cinema” in line with the larger show’s theme of “Silver Screen – Take Root”.

Eberhard Eichner, our master of REvision Division furniture building in Bellingham talked about making the most of small urban gardening spaces outdoor furniture and demonstrated how to build a planter box, bench seat and arbor

Jason Darling, our Education and Marketing Coordinator, presented an inspiring slideshow with photos and videos of creative planters, fences and screens, pavers and patios, arbors, sculptural accents, water features and weird old unidentifiable things. Everything was made from reclaimed materials and he even did some good networking, soliciting artists for our 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show.

Thanks so much to our friends at Seattle Urban Farm Company for teaming up with us on our booth at the Flower & Garden Show – and to Sutter Home & Hearth for loaning us the “Big Green Egg” grill/smoker for the outdoor kitchen – and thanks to Sky nursery for loaning us some plants too.

Posted in: Green business, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry, You can do it yourself

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Entrepreneurs needed for construction and demolition waste

Trackhoe eating houseIt is time for you to get out your entrepreneurial hat. Imagine tons of useful construction and demolition waste, sorted and available by the truck load. What can you dream up in the way of fabulous new products that help our dear citizenry? The supply is about to increase because the City of Seattle is shooting for the moon, aiming to reduce the mountain of waste sent to landfills by 50,000 to 100,000 tons annually.

In 2007, Seattle adopted it’s Zero Waste Strategy to help revolutionize waste disposal and recycling in two main channels of the river of waste that flows from the Emerald City: construction & demolition waste (C & D) and food waste. Additional disposal bans have been put in place, including concrete, brick and asphalt paving in January of this year. On December 10, 2012, Seattle City Council took the next step with ordinance #124076.

As of January of 2015, it will be prohibited to dispose of metal, cardboard, carpet, plastic film wrap, and new gypsum scrap (dry wall) in dumpsters or at the city’s transfer stations. The new ordinance establishes “a construction waste recycling facility certification program; requiring the submittal of waste diversion reports by certain construction and demolition waste generators.”

This isn’t just some crazy idea vetted by green building idealists (like us!), but was assessed as achievable based on assessment modeling and a public review process of the industry stakeholders who would be affected by the changes.

From Richard Conlin’s blog, one of Seattle’s most progressive council members:

“Making this effective requires that facilities cooperate, that markets are available, and that we collect data on what construction projects are actually doing with their waste.  All of these components are built into the program, with provisions for administrative flexibility if there are problems with market development.

The materials that will be included in recycling requirements by 2016 represent more than 80% of the tonnage of waste generated in the construction sector.  Since SPU has forged a cooperative agreement with the businesses involved to make this program work, it is likely that we will be able to attain these goals.”

Dream big because the recycling facilities will be sifting and sorting this stuff by the ton in the next few years. What’s your big or little idea? Come talk to us if you think you have something that could work in the realms of salvage and repurposing.

Posted in: Green business, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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Meet the Fleet – Trucks, Trailers and Moving Stuff Around

Truck collageWe like to move stuff around just as much as any American. The thing that The RE Store does differently is that each load that we carry on our trucks save precious building materials from the brink of doom by way of landfill or incinerator. It is a lot of work and we love it. Our crews drive over 100,000 miles each year if you combine all six of our trucks that roam throughout Western Washington and occasionally East of the mountains.

We have our weekly “truck love” maintenance schedule that insures our trusty steeds stay watered, fed and in as good a condition as we can keep them. Neither of the Seattle trucks have a lift gate. We use ramps or brute strength to get everything on and off and on and off and on and off every day. The trucks have hauled materials from job sites that include homes, businesses and storage facilities. We carry amazing reuse displays to trade shows or haul our Recycled Art Station to community events. The trucks have even hauled tons of trash picked up from our beach clean-up projects as a part of the annual Recycled Arts Show. We utilize biodiesel in our diesel trucks and work to minimize storm water run off from our job sites.

As is true to our car culture, The RE Store’s fleet of trucks all have their own personalities:

Lily the truckLily is a 2000 Ford F250 Crew Cab pickup with over 133,000 miles.
She is lily-white and is the truck that up to six of our Bellingham crew travels in. Lilly witnesses the most progressive conversations and brainstorms, due to her community-building roomy interior. She also carries lots of tools, but not a huge amount of materials. She loves to pull trailers and heave large timbers on her beefy rack. We wonder if she is a pig at heart, as she gets stuck in the mud all too often with her out-of-commission four wheel drive. Lilly has has spent a lot of time on overnight projects out in the San Juan Islands. Bellingham crew member, Charlie Myers, slept in Lilly’s back seat on a Lopez Island job site for four nights. His tent had collapsed under a downpour, so he made due in Lily.

Herman is a 2006 GMC-Isuzu 12-foot box van with over 137,000 miles.
Herman is the heavy lifter with a lift gate, allowing one crew member to do a lot of work and keep stuff dry. Herman is our workhorse and is the newest member of our fleet. He was an exciting replacement, 2 years ago, for our old open bed pickup, Graywolf. He is named after Mt. Herman that located close to Mt. Baker (big and white). Some of our staff wonder if Herman has a crush on Lily.

Blue truckBlue is a 1997 Chevy 3500 with a 12-foot flatbed, the oldest and most tired of our hard-working Bellingham fleet with a whopping 187,000 miles as of October 2012.
Blue has hauled millions of pounds (seriously) of lumber and large items back from thousands of job sites over the years. You name it, Blue has carried it. We have rebuilt the gates twice that close in the sides out of bleacher boards and rebuilt the bed once, out of salvaged 2×6 tongue and groove decking, all on our own. When Blue’s rear steel gates went missing, former crew member Gabe Gonzalez welded up new ones for us.

Possum, the truckPossum is a white, 2001 Isuzu flatbed with over 120,000 miles on the odometer.
We have had Possum for close to a decade. He was named Possum because a possum was living in the Seattle store that evaded capture for weeks. This trusty steed has hauled from more than 2000 job sites. Every brick load over the last seven years came back to the Seattle store on Possum’s strong back. Possums gates are made out of our bleacher board and the deck currently needs replacement, like Blue received.

Fuso, the truckFuso is a white 1994 Mitsubishi flatbed that we put a dump bed on with 175,000 miles.
Fuso has been the main green demolition / deconstruction truck thanks to the dump bed that we installed after buying it in 2007. 15 or more houses have been deconstructed and hauled back to the store in Fuso. This is our only Seattle truck with a working radio, and it rarely is changed from KEXP or KUOW radio stations. Fuso’s side gates are also built out of our favorite wide-plank lumber material, bleacher boards. These bleacher boards sport a patina that could only be created by decades of wiggling and giggling adololescents during their school assemblies and sports events.

Clutch, the truckClutch is a white 1989 Nissan pickup that was donated to our organization in 2002 with over 160,000 miles now.
Clutch is the scout for our Seattle field services and sees the most mileage of all of our trucks. This old friend previews between 1200 and 1500 jobs. Clutch doesn’t have a working radio, so Clutch hears a lot of Joel, our Seattle field manager, talking to himself. Clutch proudly wears the rack that lived formerly on our previous preview rig, Scout.
Before serving The RE Store, Clutch was used by our parent non-profit, RE Sources, for hauling recycling education materials to hundreds of Whatcom County school classrooms.

Visit our Field Services pages to get a free bid from our Pick-upSalvage Strip-Out, and Green Demolition “Deconstruction” Services

Check out this great examples of alternative transportation in the construction industry with local remodelers, A-1 Builders, in Bellingham, commuting to a major remodel job site via bicycle. Read the article on page 16 of American Bicyclist.

Posted in: Green business, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Why blog about The RE Store?

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Fire Fighter Forcible Entry Training With Reclaimed Doors

Fire fighter forcible entry training photoThe Bellingham Fire Department was established in 1904. Their well-seasoned department supports fire fighter training for many of the districts in Whatcom County Washington. Annual “Forcible Entry Training” uses props to simulate locked buildings that the crews must break into, in case a fire requires rescue access to the inside of a building.

The Bellingham Fire Department uses salvaged materials from The RE Store and Overhead Door Company to help reduce costs in their training exercises. It also makes good sense to utilize already used doors that will be destroyed anyways in the training exercises. Watch these brave and highly regarded men and women in the following video as they keep themselves fit and ready for the next emergency.

If your community group or business needs materials, The RE Store welcomes your requests for building materials, gift certificates for fundraising events and other in-kind support.

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Things you never knew about The RE Store, Transforming the building industry, Video posts, Why blog about The RE Store?

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Mainstreaming Green Demolition and Reuse With Tom Napier

Tom Napier has a big brain. He works as a “Research Architect” for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center / Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. He has also served as president of the national Building Materials Reuse Association, and is involved in the Design-Build Institute of America and Construction Specifications Institute. Based on his own research, Napier has concluded that reusing materials could reduce the environmental impacts of water use, air and water pollution, and disposal by as much as 99%. “That’s almost a total reduction of adverse impacts compared to manufacturing new items,” Napier says.

State Street warehouse series

State Street warehouse takedown – green demolition aka deconstruction

More and more case studies are being accrued in the green building and demolition industry showing the true viability of these practices, increasing jobs, reducing waste and saving money for contractors and home/building owners.

Tom put out a bucket list of changes that would transform the building industry, boosting the reuse industry and green demolition aka deconstruction into the mainstream. The bucket list was reprinted recently on the ReBuilding Center’s blog, The Reclamation Administration, and we thought it was worthy of reposting as well. The following list contains four of the 6 items. If this gets your gears turning like it does for us, read the rest of the list and his further ideas in the original article on Ecohome, a magazine of the American Institute of Architects

Here’s the list:

  1. The conflict between demolition and deconstruction disappears. The routine is to reuse what can be reused, recycle what can be recycled, and landfill the little bit that’s left.
    “Buildings have to be demolished,” Napier admits. “That’s just a fact of life. What we are trying to do, once a decision is made for a building to come down, instead of the default being to put materials in a landfill or recycling the steel, there are additional avenues of conservation that can be practiced that are not as common as the mainstream. We just want to bring those into the tool kit as well.”
    .
  2. Promoters of “green building” rating systems fully appreciate the impacts of waste and life-cycle benefits of materials reuse, and give full credit to reuse as a major contributor to sustainability.
    “The path of least resistance becomes that which the point chasers exercise,” Napier says. “In a perfect world, there would be some kind of hierarchy—the closest use to the original form gets the most points and the farther you divert, or the more resources you put into making something different, then you get fewer points.”
     .  
  3. Architectural and engineering professionals, as agents to building owners, educate their clients and vigorously promote salvage and reuse where practical.
    In an ideal world, Napier says the value of reused materials would be ingrained in the construction industry infrastructure, starting with academia. “If I were king and I had a really long-term vision, I would be starting back to the educational systems and architectural programs and civil engineering programs and make this part of the value scheme of people coming up in the building professions,” Napier says. “That’s going to take a couple of generations.”
     . 
  4. Deconstruction, salvage, and used material businesses develop a robust and highly visible infrastructure within the building industry. Services are available for any type of project, any time, and at any location.
    According to Napier, this will mean changing up the business model. “When you think about the business model of a demolition contractor, they don’t have a material handling or interim phase between the acquisition of material and the ultimate reuse,” he explains. “Getting those kinds of businesses started and getting them active and working is going to certainly give more options to building owners, property owners, demolition contractors, and designers.”

Read the rest of the list and elaboration on the original article on Ecohome.

What would you like to see to help transform the mountains of construction and demolition trash into reusable materials, green jobs and stewardship of our home?

Posted in: Green business, Reference and resources, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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Deconstructing a House in Five Easy Steps – Notes From the Field

by Ryan DeSales, Seattle Field Crew Member

The RE Store’s Seattle and Bellingham field crews teamed-up this June to deconstruct a house in West Seattle, and yours truly lived to tell the tale.

Yes Virginia, there is a difference between demolition and deconstruction. Conventional demolition operations use heavy equipment to raze a structure. This process typically destroys all reusable building materials, and the resulting debris is sent to the landfill. Deconstruction, on the other hand, is just what it sounds like. A structure is carefully disassembled by hand, or sometimes with the assistance of a machine. This allows most reusable materials (fixtures, flooring, lumber, bricks, etc.) to be salvaged. Anything that can’t be reused is recycled, or disposed of appropriately.

So, how do you deconstruct a house by hand? Just get a couple of experienced and hardworking field crew members of The RE Store and follow these five easy steps:

Step One: Working from the top down, remove shingles and underlayment; toss gingerly from roof while taking care to avoid hitting those working below. Next, remove plywood decking and pull skip sheeting. Repeat as necessary to achieve desired result.

Step Two: Remove all interior fixtures (plumbing and electrical), cabinetry, doors, windows, flooring, and other hardware. Ensure water and electrical power supplies are shut off prior to beginning this step.

Step Three: Working from the interior, pull drywall to expose studs. Working from the exterior, remove all siding to expose plywood sheeting. Next, remove sheeting and wave to crew members working inside.

Step Four: Cut roof trusses and lower to ground level for disassembly. Cut and remove wall studs; do not remove load bearing wall studs prematurely. Repeat until sky is clearly visible overhead.

Step Five: Cut and remove remaining wall studs. Remove flooring material to expose floor joists. Cut and remove joists. Load all salvageable materials onto The RE Store trucks. Dispose of any hazardous materials (fluorescent lights, etc.) appropriately. High five team members accordingly.

You too can deconstruct a house in just eight days using this proven method! Or, you can call up The RE Store in Seattle or Bellingham to learn more about our green deconstruction and salvage services. Seriously though, deconstructing a house by hand requires a tremendous effort by a dedicated group of individuals. The result, however, is well worth it. This West Seattle deconstruction project netted thousands of dollars in salvaged lumber and other building materials that would have otherwise entered the waste stream.

Posted in: Notes From the Field, Stories about people, Stories about stuff, Transforming the building industry

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