Lunch 'n Learn | The ReUse People

Wednesday Sept. 18, 2019 , noon to 12:45 p.m.
The ReUse People

On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, the Materials Lab hosted Kathy Robinson from the ReUse People for a Lunch ‘n Learn session about alternatives to demolition, focused on single-family residences.

Although 90% of all building materials in the US are sent to the landfill after demolition, with proper handling 75-85% can be salvaged and reused. One alternative to conventional demolition is deconstruction, where a team will strip down and harvest the materials of a building, which can then be either reused as they are or recycled. While deconstruction costs somewhat more than a typical demolition, the materials saved can be offered as a high value tax-deductible donation (think $65,000+ for 1500 SF), making deconstruction over demolition cost-competitive.

A second method is to simply relocate a residence altogether. This method is more materially efficient and tends to have an even higher financial value over deconstruction, but requires a riskier approach as well: a buyer needs to be found for the home, financing can fall through, and moving a house on the back of a truck is a tricky and costly process. Still, if home-owners undertake this more involved process, their donations end up quite high--often around $100,000, netting them an even higher deduction on their taxes. In addition to the financial incentives for deconstruction and relocation, both methods are important parts of helping to significantly reduce waste in the building industry, and provide home-owners the satisfaction of knowing that their houses are going to be put to use rather than becoming rubble in a landfill.

Kathy Robinson is the sole representative for The ReUse People in Austin, and she has personally accommodated 29 deconstructions and 23 relocations, diverting 1,700 tons of building materials from the landfill since 2015. More info about The ReUse people and Kathy’s work in Austin can be found here.