Building the Secondary Market for Reclaimed Building Materials

Mark Rabkin, Deconstruction ManagementFor this week’s guest post Friday, Musings welcomes Mark Rabkin of Deconstruction Management, Inc., the first, dedicated, for-profit deconstruction management firm in the country. Based in Northeast Ohio, it through all stages of building removal from property acquisition to deconstruction to recycling and architectural salvage.

With 10 years of professional experience as an independent risk advisor focusing on sustainable real estate and development, Mark counsels his clients on effective strategies to reduce hazards and mitigate losses. Mark oversees the marketing and administrative functions of Deconstruction Management, Inc. and is responsible for managing the architectural salvage and the upcycled material reuse and resale side of the business.

Mark is a leader in the advocacy of sustainable building strategies both locally and nationally. Mark serves as the volunteer Director of Advocacy for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the United States Green Building Council. He is also an active contributor on many of the chapter’s strategic implementation teams. Mark is a member of Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, the Council of Smaller Enterprises’ Sustainability Task Force and is an active participant in the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 Initiative.

Mark resides in Cleveland Heights, OH.

Building deconstruction, or “construction in reverse,” is the most effective way to preserve the embodied energy of the materials that comprise the built environment. Deconstruction is defined as the comprehensive dismantlement of building components, specifically for reuse, resale, recycling and waste management. Compared to traditional demolition in which a structure is torn down as quickly as possible and waste is deposited into commercial landfills, careful consideration is given to deconstruction and waste redirection throughout the entire process. Deconstruction focuses on giving salvageable materials a new life once the building as a whole can no longer continue and addresses the appropriate disposal of waste.

However, the biggest drawback to deconstruction is the extra time and labor required by the process, thereby adding to its upfront premium. To offset this disadvantage compared to traditional demolition, most deconstruction firms are non-profits, thus providing a tax deduction to the property owner for the appraised value of any materials salvaged for reuse. Deconstruction Management , Inc. (DMI) is a for-profit entity that provides on-site management of deconstruction contractors and facilitates the reuse, resale and redirection of salvageable materials. In a recent project, we successfully returned 70% of the proceeds received on the sale of reclaimed materials back to the property owner (a non-profit with no incentive to receive a tax deduction for donations).

One of the industry’s primary goals is to identify potential consumers of reclaimed building materials that are prepared to pay cash to give a building component a new home. One such solution to date is the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore project where local Habitat for Humanity affiliates own and operate a retail store that sells building materials reclaimed from deconstruction projects or donated by contractors. These stores have been a valuable component of the independent affiliates to offset their reduced operating cash flows due to the recent economic downturn. There are many other local outlets for the resale of reclaimed building materials, most of which are non-profit organizations that not only sell, but will accept donated materials in good working condition in exchange for a tax deduction.

Deconstruction Management, Inc. is working to simultaneously expand deconstruction opportunities as well as establish a secondary use marketplace where prospective buyers can connect with sellers of reclaimed building materials. In her 2009 report, Dr. Rachel Weber concludes a study on the demand for a large scale C&D material reuse store in the greater Chicago are with the following statement:

A growing ecological awareness is influencing consumption patterns… buying used has the potential to save not only consumers money but also building owners and developers who will likely have to pay higher fees for dumping debris in landfill in the near future. This is why building material reuse stores across the country are reporting increased sales despite the current recession. Moreover, on the labor market side, deconstruction is becoming an oft-mentioned “green job” that has the potential to replace some of the manufacturing jobs that have been lost, while offering a path to additional opportunities in the construction industry and the skilled trades.

As always, Mark and I welcome your comments below. Please subscribe to keep up with this and other Guest Post Fridays at Construction Law Musings.

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3 Responses to Building the Secondary Market for Reclaimed Building Materials
  1. Reuse When You Remodel « WholeBuffalo News
    February 9, 2011 | 1:03 PM

    […] Building the Secondary Market for Reclaimed Building Materials (constructionlawva.com) […]

  2. CaGreenRemodeling
    April 10, 2013 | 12:37 PM

    After building construction it is very important to remodel the house or building that makes the home looking smart and lovely and for it proper planning should be done according to the budget.

  3. Kiva
    June 8, 2013 | 3:19 AM

    Construction waste is estimated to take up about 25 percent of landfill. Having C&D material reuse stores is a great idea. One worth subsidizing… perhaps by charging higher waste disposal fees.
    Kiva recently posted..13 tips for building a green home [infographic]My Profile

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About Musings

I am a construction lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, a LEED AP, and have been nominated by my peers to Virginia's Legal Elite in Construction Law on multiple occasions. I provide advice and assistance with mechanic's liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals.

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