Project partners find new homes for old building materials
When the Forest County Potawatomi Community needed to take down one of the buildings on its administrative campus, it opted against the easy route.
Demolition plans turned to deconstruction plans when general contractor FIX Development LLC, Milwaukee, partnered with WasteCap Resource Solutions Inc. in an effort to reuse and recycle as much of the building as possible.
The results were beyond expectations. The partners were able to divert 97 percent of the building and its contents from landfills.
“My sense of the client is that, because of their cultural underpinnings, they are very connected to the environment,” said Juli Kaufmann, president of FIX Development. “They seek to minimize their environmental impact in all the projects they do.”
The project also allowed the Forest County Potawatomi Indian Tribe to provide jobs and opportunities for job training.
WasteCap brought in Milwaukee Jobs Corps students to get hands-on experience disassembling the old building’s boiler system.
“Hands-on training is the best in any type of job,” Kaufmann said. “What makes deconstruction so valuable: you can make mistakes and they are dramatically less costly. You can pull something out and break it, and, OK, that was a mistake, but we were taking it out anyway.”
The boiler parts were then taken back to the school and are now available for the trainees to work with as they continue to build their skills.
The reuse is all part of the idea behind deconstruction, said WasteCap project manager Stephen Servais. The process involves identifying every possible item or material that can still be used.
“We partnered with nonprofits and for-profits,” he said. “Doors were taken out; a salvage store took railings, faucets, cabinets.”
Some materials get turned into new versions of themselves, such as 7,000 square feet of ceiling tiles taken from the building. Tile manufacturer Armstrong plans to turn them into new tiles.
“We try to get the highest and best use out of materials,” Kaufmann said.
— Jennifer Pfaff