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.
Posts Tagged win-win
Scott and Nia Sayers spent the last six months winning a competition that remodeled their home’s interior, benefitted their family and their professional lives, all while designing around reuse. That contest was Puget Sound Energy’s Re-Energized by Design challenge that pitted six households against each other in a contest that we quote here from the PSE site:
“Re-Energized by Design is a ‘design show’ style competition, where six PSE customers are competing in a series of five room-by-room makeover challenges to combine creative home design with energy efficiency. After each challenge, one contestant is eliminated. PSE provides contestants with a weekly cash allowance, energy-efficient products, and a design coach to help implement stylish energy-efficient home upgrades.”
The Sayers have been designing around reuse for many years. Nia Sayers did window displays at The RE Store in Bellingham in 2008 and 2009. Nia came up with inspiring concepts like a salvaged claw-foot bathtub full of light globes and lightbulbs as bubbles.
Then there was her outdoor serving table that she built from a table base rescued from the brink of the landfill. Click on the photo thumbnails for full-sized photos. Nia has taught workshops on DIY skills like recovering upholstery and her idea for this project is downloadable here.
Scott just had pieces in both Bellingham galleries for the 12th Annual Recycled Arts Show. If you missed his perfect rendering of Chevy Chase in negative relief that was cut out of duct tape, the photo doesn’t do it justice. Scott said that for the Re-Energized by Design competition that “The RE Store was our secret weapon.”
When asked about how all of the remodeling of the family’s home wrapped up, Nia said, “We still have some projects to finish up.”
And don’t we all…
Check out the Re-Energized by Design website for all of the stories, more resources for saving money and making a home more efficient. You might pick up some creative and clever ways to improve home interiors and make it more energy-efficient. And learn more about Nia on her site, SummerLandStyle.com.
- A complex philosophical movement about meaning that started in France in the 1960’s
- A new way of salvaging construction supplies from structures that are being demolished
- 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:
- Green building has become well-documented as a wiser way to build and remodel structures for all types of use
- Resources and commodities have increased in cost
- Waste disposal has become more expensive
- Design and decor trends have grown the public interest in reclaimed materials
- The “D.I.Y.” movement has become hugely popular across television, radio, print and online channels
The 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?
The 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.
Our friends at Appliance Depot know how to have a good time, even if it means spilling a little blood. Refrigerators, stoves, washers and random appliance parts became vehicles racing down Maple Street in Bellingham. The annual Appliance Art Revival & Derby celebrates reuse, creativity and the good work that Appliance Depot does, rebuilding appliances and providing job training in Bellingham, Washington. Yours truly at The RE Store sponsored the Revival, including recording and editing this wacky video!
Thanks to Matt McDonald of innations.com for supplying the missing epic “crash into the crowd” photo footage and to Adam Nash Photography for the fork failure shots of Blue Steel and others.
Are you bold enough to race next year? Awwww, come on.
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.
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:
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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?
Barret Lizza bootstrapped the start up of his hair salon in Bellingham, alone, on an extremely small budget, in less than a month. He signed the lease for “9 Blue Salon” around Christmas of 2011 and spent a crazy month on non-stop remodeling madness, by himself, hauling all of the materials on top of his 1996 Ford Escort. With his limited funds, he had to build the space almost entirely with salvaged materials.
Barret described why, “I wanted to have a salon that was affordable, because I was tired of everyone charging so much. And I wanted something different from the look of all those salons that look like a fashion runway. Being creative is a lot better than buying a bunch of new stuff anyways.”
Style didn’t come without peril, though. Barrett explains, “One of the chandeliers has these great mermaids on it. It was from an old mansion in Seattle. I was up on the ladder, all alone, using a pulley system I rigged up like an Egyptian or something and I shocked myself on the bronze fixture, trying to keep it suspended while attaching it.”
Reclaimed materials were used throughout the space. Old doors were hung with used mirrors for the stylist stations. Rollabouts for the stations were made from salvaged cabinets with drawers that he put wheels put on. Then a fire extinguisher was repurposed into a towel holder and old rusty car jacks were made into a shelf. He gave each station has its own mailbox for communications with the independently contracted stylists, made from old mailboxes from an apartment complex. Shelving, beams, paint, and lighting were all found at The RE Store or pulled out of his house or barn. Barrett picked up a used piano from Big Brothers Big Sisters, who didn’t want it anymore.
Barrett talked about his road blocks, “Money was the biggest challenge. I did the whole thing with $1500.00. Lifting and hanging stuff by myself was a bit tricky. I don’t think a lot of people could see what I was seeing so I had to do a lot of it by myself. I tore out the existing acoustic tile ceiling and the fluorescent lighting, getting some trade credit when I took those in to The RE Store. That helped me buy more materials like the big reclaimed beams. They (the beams) were affordable. It was little parts that were the most expensive. The screws and hangers cost a lot of money.”
Lizza continues to vision on other projects like 9 Blue Laboratories, a music recording studio and arts space for himself. If it proves to be anything like the salon, it will inspire any artist or creative type who enters.
Watch his rather epic commercial here to catch some more glimpses of 9 Blue Salon and its once more decor.
The Willows Inn on Lummi Island has leapt into the national gourmet food limelight in the last 18 months, under the culinary guidance of Olympia born, 25-year old acclaimed chef Blaine Wetzel. A 2011 article in the New York Times, titled, “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride”, placed the Willows Inn amongst the great gastronomic experiences to be found in New York, London, Barcelona, Singapore, and Sydney. Read more about it’s philosophy and remodel project with reclaimed and local materials below the video.
West Shore Hospitality, a group of Whatcom County and Lummi Island-based investors, took notice of The Willows Inn’s publicity, buying out former owner, Riley Starks, in the fall of 2011. This local investment group opted for a full remodel of the entire facility, restaurant and the on-site accommodations. Nettles Farm lies behind the Inn, still owned by Starks, and is leased by the new owners as a part of the haven for gourmet locavores, growing greens, vegetables and flowers within a stone’s throw of the kitchen. With the restaurant’s focus on locally-sourced food and farm-to-table approach, they applied those same principles to the contractors and artists involved in the project. Many of the tradesman and contributors to the project were sourced from the Lummi Island community, known for its artisans and craftsfolk.
The RE Store’s own Eberhard Eichner lives on Lummi Island and contributed furniture and decor to the project along with others woodworkers Alan Rosen, Tom Lutz. Other locals involved in the project included: Pier Bosma doing fireplace stone work, Houston Foust’s stone and concrete work, ceramics by Ria Nickerson, Mark Bergsma’s photography and digital artwork, and resident artist Ria Harboe. Almost all of The Willows’ staff are Lummi Island residents as well.
As a part of the remodel, they hired Carol Beecher with Boston’s Saltwater Consulting, to be the “designer helping the Willow’s transform itself” for the remodel. Carol is a long-time fan of reclaimed materials, natural materials and old stuff. She wanted the interior of the a 102-year-old Inn to mirror its natural settings. She lobbied successfully for the restoration of the original fir flooring and brought out the original character hidden beneath the many layers of paint.
Carol saw Eberhard’s furniture in The RE Store and was compelled to get him involved. “The RE Store is my favorite place. That is where I always look for cool, funky things. I saw some furniture that Eberhard had done and I said, ‘I’ve got to reach out to this guy. He’s got what is in my mind and he can make it happen.”
The RE Store installed a set of sliding double doors between the main dining room and Blaine’s kitchen, a single sliding door unit made from cabinet doors that can partition off the private dining room, and a side table made from salvaged lumber and glass.
And so The Willows was renewed: the remodel was completed, the geoducks were dug, the local fish were caught, the farm out back produced prolifically, wildcrafted ingredients were harvested from the native forests, and the table was set.
For a truly local, gastronomically incredible experience, contact The Willows and leave behind your previously conceived notions of eating local.
The RE Store has a long history of bootstrapping its own projects and innovations. We have had very few grants over the years. The few we have been awarded were focused on research and development of creative ways to reclaim more materials from the flood stage waste stream that we are drowning in. We already save the equivalent of 5 fully loaded Boeing 747’s per year (over 4,500,000 pounds) and are constantly pushing for more.
Our REvision Division program was started in 2012 with our own precious capital in this challenging economy. Now the Alcoa Foundation has seen fit to support our efforts. The injection of these funds will be used to further improve our education and sharing of ideas that will reduce waste, save you money, and hopefully even help you feel good about growing your do-it-yourself attitude, if you aren’t already a DIY rock star.
Watch this short video with Kurt Gisclair, Director of The RE Store, talking about the 3 main goals of the REvision Division. Josh Wilund, Public Affairs Manager for Alcoa, then goes on to talk about how The RE Store is setting benchmarks for other organizations like Alcoa with reuse, salvage, green demolition aka deconstruction, and more. Josh disclosed that he is a regular shopper and donates materials to The RE Store. When Josh and the Alcoa Foundation team looked deeper into the statistics and metrics of our programs and our proposal to move the ball down the field, that they saw how much of an example The RE Store is setting. The non-profit organization is doing salvage, resale, job training and education and more. The Bellingham and Seattle-based org is continuing to reach out in 2012 with an all-new The RE Store Certified program, the 11th annual Recycled Arts Show, and much more.
Are you curious to see how local businesses have incorporated reclaimed materials into their projects? Do you like to support businesses that are taking steps to be responsible stewards of this beautiful place where we live? The RE Store Certified Program is scratching the back of progressive local businesses. The non-profit organization is launching a new program that will recognize local businesses that make significant efforts to incorporate salvage, reclaimed materials and green building practices.
Imagine some of your favorite restaurants, bars, boutiques, salons, and other places you frequent, all together on a map, with details about what cool and unusual materials they have reused in building and decorating. The map will be available online as a navigable, custom Google map, along with a downloadable pdf version and also a printed version you can come grab at our stores in Ballard or Bellingham. We look forward to launching the maps and web presence for The RE Store Certified Guide in the Spring so stay tuned.