In May, we partnered with member Wangard Partners and one of the Midwest’s leading builders, J.H. Findorff & Son, to salvage useable material from the historic Laacke & Joys building. The structure was built overlooking the Milwaukee River in 1895, and Laacke & Joys (established in Milwaukee in 1844) moved into the location in the 1960’s. In 2012, the building was sold and Laacke & Joys relocated to Brookfield. The deconstruction included a partial demolition to the building and renovating the remaining 106,000 square feet into an office, which is available for lease. With huge thanks to partners Wangard and Findorff, pieces from the Laacke & Joys building are now in the WasteCap warehouse ready to be bought while others went directly to clients for reuse.
WasteCap saved over 4,000 square feet of maple hardwood flooring on the Laacke & Joys project, and that’s a quantity worth celebrating! To put this into perspective, an average WasteCap deconstruction project removes about 500 square feet of flooring. This project was eight times as big! However, that wasn’t all WasteCap was able to save. Salvaged materials included vintage elevator doors, iconic signs, industrial warehouse lights, rolling door hardware, doors, and two porcelain bubblers.
All of the materials were donated to the WasteCap Salvage Warehouse located at 2123 W. Michigan Street. Many items have already been sold to individual customers to be used in their homes. Others were sold to a local developer to be used in a new construction building. These building materials were not ready to be dumped into a landfill, they were ready to be reused for many years to come. Over one (1) ton of materials was diverted from a landfill as a result of WasteCap’s services. By reusing the flooring from the project, just under 5,000 kilowatts of energy was saved. That is enough to power an average Wisconsin household for two months.
So why should you deconstruct before or instead of demolition? It seems a lot easier to simply put all demolition materials into a dumpster headed for a landfill, right? And won’t it cost more to deconstruct than to demolish?
The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 164 million tons of waste generated from construction, renovation, and demolition projects ended up in landfills—demolition alone accounts for almost 60 percent of the nation’s total waste stream. Deconstruction is an environmentally-friendly alternative to demolition with benefits to the homeowner, the community and the environment. Almost 90% of the materials in most homes and buildings can be reclaimed for future use. This includes a variety of building materials, like wall studs, nails, concrete, joists, piping, wiring and plumbing fixtures. While some find it deeply satisfying to keep these items out of the landfill, another benefit is that the value of these tax deductible donations can often be substantial – enough to offset the costs of deconstruction. By choosing deconstruction over demolition, not only are you saving these materials from clogging up landfills and producing methane gas, which contributes to climate change, but you are also reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced when new materials are made.
There are two main types of deconstruction: selective and whole-house deconstruction. Also referred to as a “soft strip,” selective demolition is a method that involves going into the property before its demolition and removing any easy-to-spot, high-value materials. This typically includes things like doors, lighting fixtures, appliances, hardwood flooring, cabinets, windows and countertops. Although the majority of WasteCap’s deconstruction work takes us into Milwaukee area homes, we do commercial/industrial projects like the Laacke & Joys building as well. Project Manager, Kevin Fogle, says his favorite part of working for WasteCap is “getting the opportunity to explore historic buildings and save historic building materials that would otherwise be forgotten and landfilled”.
More information on WasteCap’s deconstruction services or to review the blog as it’s posted on the WasteCap webite.