BMRA NEWS   December 2018

 - news from the BMRA on the deconstruction and reuse industry - 
Building Material Reuse Association - "working to create a vibrant building materials economy as part of a world without waste".

Deconstructing Blight...
- part 1 of a 2 part series -

by Mike Gables, Construction Junction

In Pittsburgh, a partnership between the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS) at the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture and Construction Junction (CJ)-a nonprofit building material reuse retailer since 1999- is exploring deconstruction and how the benefits of the practice can be applied to low income communities impacted by blight. The partnership is also looking at the role salvaged materials might play in community based strategies to address the issue of affordable housing.
The partnership between the UDBS and CJ is formally known as Project RE_ whose focus is to reuse materials, rebuild communities, and restore lives. The partnership also includes nonprofit job training organizations that work with populations with barriers to employment. John Folan, the faculty head of the UDBS, is deeply committed to exposing his architecture students to designing with repurposed building materials from CJ. The first step in the process of identifying valuable materials for reuse occurred in October when the UDBS students, a small group of job trainees, and CJ staff worked collaboratively with instruction from Dave Bennink to deconstruct a house on campus that was entered into the 2005 solar decathlon competition in Washington DC (sponsored by the Department of Energy).

While the solar house was not a blighted structure, it exposed the students to the practice of deconstruction that will be a continuing part of the UDBS curriculum next year. The next step in the process involves the students designing a house for a local community development corporation in the East Liberty Neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The house will be part of a larger affordable housing strategy for the neighborhood. In January’s BMRA newsletter I will share some of the UDBS perspectives on deconstruction and insights gained from their project, Deconstructing Blight, as a strategy for addressing the economic, social and environmental issues of blight and the UDBS’s ideas for increasing the value of building materials that many see as having no value.  

This project is ambitious and askes a lot of big, difficult questions, but it fits perfectly into the BMRA’s mission to identify all of the potential benefits of engaging with used building materials. 

More next issue!

Planned obsolescence was no accident...

[just one topic at the "Inaugural Upcyclers Gathering" in LA]

"The Upcycling community is a critical component in the development of a circular and sustainable economy. This industry presents an enormous opportunity to address growing waste and consumption trends while building high value businesses. Due to the advent of China and much of SE Asia's secondary materials market closure, the need to support domestic demand for secondary material presents a great opportunity to invest in local economic development as well as meet zero waste and carbon targets. The goal of this event is to support the development of the Upcycler ecosystem to affect even greater impact." Gina Lee Circular CoLab
The BMRA was there to add our support and help keep us involved in the growing dialog around Circular Economy and Upcycling.With 70 attendees from aross the country and many industries it was a fantastic day. Keep an eye on Circular Colab as they lay the foundation for a formal Upcyclers Industry Association.

More info on the "history of Planned Obsolescence" in our next issue... 

Decon 19, (and 20!)
We are thrilled to announce the location of not just Decon 19, but Decon 20 as well! 

Please join us in Pittsburg - early Nov. 2019

And  Minneapolis in early Nov. 2020
Thanks to our members Construction Junction in Pittsburg, and Better Futures in Minneapolis for offering to host.  Both cities have a thriving reuse, decon and sustainability culture. Should be great fun! 
Also, you may have noticed we are changing our timing a bit. While we don't have a final yet we are shooting for the first week of November to make it easier for all our decon and reuse folks who are usually slammed earlier in the fall. 
More on final dates soon. 

Invest in Reuse!

Help Support Our Goals for 2019

  • Rebuild our certification program to allow dozens of cities to engage professionals they can trust.
  • Reframe our curriculum so our member organizations can use it to offer local workforce employment trainings to get more people into deconstruction.
  • Create a continuing Education program to make sure that our members are keeping up to date with the latest research and best practices.
  • Advocate in cities across the country for deconstruction and salvage goals, barrier removal, and funding opportunities.
  • Work with partners to introduce key legislative and ordinance opportunities that will encourage reuse and deconstruction nationally.

"The best investment with the least risk and the greatest dividend is giving."
-John Templeton


 Invest Now 

(because this is not acceptable)


Welcome our new Board Members
I am very excited to announce that we have 6 new board members;
  • Shannon Goodman from the Living Building Center in Atlanta
  • PJ, Hubbard from Better Futures Minnesota
  • Allison Arlotta M.Sc. Columbia University Historic Preservation
  • Caroline Lund from the Saint Paul S&HW Compliance Program
  • Kevin Gastelewicz from Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit
These five were elected by the members after our special members meeting last week and will formally join the Board as of January 1st 2019.
  • Bill Stough with Sustainable Business Group in Grand Rapids came on earlier this fall  to fill the last year of Eve Pytel's term.
I want to thank these 6 members personally, it is so incredibly exciting to attract such amazing people. It makes me smile ear to ear to think of going into this year, my second, with such great additions to our team behind me. Thank you all, I look forward to working together to continue building our organization. 
We'll have bios for them all on our website soon so you can start to get to know them.

I also want to thank the three Board members that are rolling off this year. Rochelle Sibbio, Eve Pytel and Chris Rutherford have been a terrific part of the board over the last few years and we would not be where we are without their leadership. Thanks to each of you for the part you have played in this time of transition. I will miss you on the board but do look forward to your continued involvement on our Advisory Council.

Thanks again everyone! 

Buzz-saw: news in & around our industry...

Deconstruction: Still a "Niche"?
This article at Waste360 is a great reminder that a lot of folks don't know about deconstruction or are just learning about it. It mentions some folks from the BMRA community who are doing good work.

One Business School Makes "Sustainable Development Goals" Central to Curriculum
Presidio Graduate School in California has decided that SDGs should be central to the study of business, incorporated into all areas of business study.  In order to seriously address the challenges of climate change, they believe business leaders need to learn to incorporate these goals from the start.  Read more

Marketing the "Circular Economy"
Lauren Phipps of GreenBiz encourages businesses to think through how they present the idea of circularity to customers and nudge them to choose products that are more sustainable.

Send us a link, photo, or article about what you find that's relevant to our industry to You can also join our LinkedIn BMRA Group and post items there. 

The Once and Future Practice of Deconstruction in NYC
Historic preservationist Alison Arlotta writes about changing practice of building removal in New York City in the first half of the 20th century, with deconstruction being a standard practice in 1900. The practice of salvaging continued to thrive through WWII, but afterward there was a steep decline. Find out more in this fascinating article

Sustainability to be Designed into All New Products at 3M
On November 15, 3M CEO Mike Roman announced a new sustainability focus for the company.  All new products are to be designed with sustainability integrated into the product.  Learn more in this Waste Advantage article

BMRA Member Wins Environmental Award
From Environmental Newsbits we learn that King County, WA, a BMRA member is one of the winners of the 2018 Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards, for their work in promoting non-hazardous cleaning products.

Delta Institue Toolkit Helps designers Capture Value of the Story of Wood
In its new Toolkit for Using StoryWood, Delta Institute defines StoryWood as "wood with a compelling history and unique provenance that sets it apart from other building materials." The toolkit goes on to differentiate several categories of wood in their "story potential", depending on their source, proximity to point of use, and sustainability.  The goal is to help designers make use of the story potential of wood and distinguish the uniqueness of the particular wood used in a project.
(By the way, we'd love to include YOUR voice in future issues of this BMRA newsletter.  Let us know if you have ideas for topics, or if you'd like to contribute an article!)
Please keep the BMRA in mind during the holidays! AmazonSmile donates to Building Materials Reuse Association when you do your holiday shopping at Smile for BMRA.
Look for your local reuse center on Amazon Smile too!

Become a BMRA member!
Please remember, we depend on you to keep us going. Membership is the foundation of our organization; we can’t do what we do without our members financial support. Please renew or join today and help us to keep building a vibrant building materials reuse economy.
BMRA News is published monthly, typically in the first half of the month.  Submission deadline for articles and member notes is the 25th of the month preceding publication.  Submissions and commentary should be addressed to editor Dirk Wassink at
Copyright © 2017 Building Materials Reuse Association, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 28 Great Cranberry Isle Maine 04625

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.
Not currently a subscriber?  Signup here.