Green Building Law Update Service

Center for Climate Change Law

Publication Highlights Projects that Have Incorporated Reused Materials


Posted on October 18th, 2010 by J. Cullen Howe

Public Architecture, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, has released the Design for Reuse Primer as a publication and website. This project seeks to demystify and promote building material reuse for green building professionals and was funded by a U.S. Green Building Council grant.  While green buildings often incorporate sustainably harvested materials or materials with recycled content, direct reuse of materials is a technique frequently overlooked by design and building professionals.  Reused materials are extracted from the waste stream and repurposed without further processing or with only minor processing that requires minimal energy expenditure.

Two LEED credits can be achieved for material reuse — Materials and Resources (MR) 3.1 and 3.2 — but they are rarely attained by LEED-certified buildings.

The Design for Reuse Primer highlights 15 projects that have successfully incorporated reused materials.  The publication suggests that reuse can be incorporated into modern, sophisticated architecture and even add rich layers of texture and history that new materials cannot.  Each project includes a case study that was compiled by numerous interviews with the architects and contractors, lessons learned, and additional resources.  Issues such as timing, cost, and contract strategies are also addressed.

As sustainable building continues to evolve to address lifecycle analysis and carbon footprint reduction, material reuse will likely take on greater importance in the future. While the reclaimed materials market is by no means mature, this publication serves as an introduction to and as a showcase for projects that have successfully integrated material reuse.

[note:  this entry was drafted by Julia Howe, who assisted in the preparation of the publication]

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