Building Material Reuse Workshop

Laura Oakleaf

Deborah Stone, Director of the Cook County Department of Environmental Control introduces Benton Johnson of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Workshop attendees listen to presentations on building material reuse.

On June 30th, in the partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Municipal and Industrial Materials Section, the Cook County Department of Environmental Control hosted half-day workshop on building material reuse. The purpose of this workshop was to brainstorm barriers to the expansion of the use of salvaged and reclaimed building materials and opportunities to expand and grow the market for salvaged building materials. As documented in many studies, the largest percentage of materials being introduced to the waste stream fall into the construction and demolition (C&D) category.

Speakers for the event included Anne Nicklin, the Executive Director of the Building Materials Reuse Association; Carla Bruni, an historic preservationist and consultant for the USEPA; Charlie Vinz, an architect and Director Production for the ReBuilding Exchange; and Benton Johnson, PE, SE, a structural engineer for Skidmore Owings, and Merrill and the lead developer of the Timber Towers project . Each of the panelists discussed how they've utilized salvaged building materials within their particular fields as well as the benefits and obstacles using salvaged building has presented. After the final presentation, there was a very robust question and answer period for the panelists.

The event brought together 70 industry leaders, including designers, architects, municipal officials, engineers, and preservationists. Agencies and organizations present for this workshop include Cook County government, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Chicago Bungalow Association, the Cities of Gary and South Bend Indiana, and many more. The attendees broke into 4 brainstorming sessions to discuss perceived barriers, opportunities and ways to overcome the barriers while capturing the opportunities to expand the materials reuse market.