Reused Building MaterialsForty percent of the waste hauled to landfills comes from building construction and demolition activity. Shocking, right? Even more surprising is about 80 percent of that material is easily reused on new projects. That’s the mission of Burns & McDonnell’s new global reuse service — finding homes for that 80 percent.

We see it as a game-changing opportunity for our clients. Incorporating reused or reclaimed materials is a major asset for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) or Living Building Challenge™ efforts. It can also save money, as these materials are often available at considerable savings over new. We save time coordinating materials that bring character and interest — a real back story — to your project.

Materials reuse is a personal passion; it’s why I founded PlanetReuse several years ago. With my colleague Brian Alferman, we served as a broker between those who needed to dispose of materials and those who might want to reuse them on hundreds of projects.

Carpet Square removal with worker and stack WideReuse strategies helped the Omega Center for Sustainable Living become the first building in the United States to achieve both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification. We incorporated reclaimed wood into Greensburg, Kan., schools, helping the city rebuild green after a destructive tornado. We even repurposed the wood from the stage for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. And in Minnesota, we helped the Minneapolis Convention Center find a new home for four semi-truck loads of carpet tiles after a renovation project, diverting them from a landfill.

A huge opportunity exists for clients in the commercial, manufacturing and retail markets. Millions of square feet of space are renovated each year, and things like carpet tile, doors and ceiling tiles go to landfills unless we facilitate getting them into a reuse center. We work with office furniture companies, equipment clearinghouses and reuse centers to find a home for much of the building materials, processing and packaging equipment and furnishings.

Helping clients reuse building materials is a sustainable program that will immediately affect how design-build projects and national rollout programs acquire and dispose of resources. That’s a fancy way of saying we have a vision to help clients save money, save time and save the planet.

Burns & Mac is familiar territory for me; it’s where I started my career nearly two decades ago. I knew from experience that innovation and entrepreneurial drive is nurtured here. Throughout my career, my own entrepreneurial spirit has taken me to the leading edge of environmental consciousness. It’s exciting to continue that path at Burns & McDonnell.

Do you need reused materials to help achieve sustainability goals on your new project? Or do you want help finding a productive new home for materials you have? We’re on it. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, or comment below and let us know how we can help.

Nathan Benjamin is a global leader in the world of material use who heads up Burns & McDonnell’s new Global Reuse Services team. He has more than 17 years of construction experience, including eight years of experience helping people find innovative ways of disposing of building materials and connecting those products with creative new uses.