Stories of Reuse Successes or Regrets

Do you have project examples where you successfully incorporated diversion, deconstruction, or reuse? What was the win and what do you think allowed it to be successful? Alternatively, did you attempt reuse in a project but it fell through? What was the obstacle?

I’ll start with an example of each:
We were successful in reusing on-site doors in a renovation by locating them in back-of-house spaces where aesthetics were less of a concern for the owner. This is a helpful strategy when people are concerned that salvage won’t “look good” (even though that’s not necessarily true!).

We were unsuccessful in salvaging marble toilet partitions from a project during design because we didn’t resist initial pushback that they would be gross or that they didn’t have a good use (reasons that could’ve been addressed or designed around!) A second attempt to salvage them during demolition phase was too late; they were smashed to pieces.


Thanks for starting this discussion, @olivia.huang! Exciting to start to see these discussions happening more often online and on projects!

We are proposing reclaimation audits on new construction projects that have demolition planned. It has been great to see people engage and fill a creative itch to think about how things can be reused. In one particular project, we proposed the use of UrbanMachine to salvage glulam from an old, small office. Ultimately, challenges with the contractor and tight schedule limited what we could do. They ended up keeping the glulam, but it’s pretty damaged and they’re not sure what they’ll do with it. The takeaway was make sure assessment is done early, contractor is engaged and the expectation is included in the schedule, and a plan for what the materials will be used for once salvaged is in place (Urban Machine is also doing some cool work to turn salvaged lumber into DLT). We’ll see what happens and we’ll keep proposing!

The SEI Circularity Committee (shoutout chair @d.bergsagel) is working on compiling case studies for structural reuse. @afeitel and KL&A has some inspiring projects as well. And I’d also share this recent write up on the cost savings (with the tradeoff of more time to complete) for an interior fitout in the UK:

This may be a digression, but at the root of this question is the work it takes to mend and maintain what we’ve already developed. I revisit this image from the book, All We Can Save, often for inspiration :slightly_smiling_face:

I like the idea of moving older things to back of house spaces.

We have this case study where we reused many things on site and then exported some things to other people off site.

We’re trying to do this on other projects as well, making some progress, but it’s challenging to design with and procure salvaged materials.


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