Friday, November 18, 2011

Converting Waste into Wealth in Georgia

Lookout West coast! Atlanta Georgia is making green waves in the salvaged materials market. This month’s newsletter from the USGBC Georgia chapter, highlights the recent deconstruction project spearheaded by the Lifecycle Building Center (LBC), a new non-profit based in Atlanta. Read more at

‘Lifecycle’ is one of those sustainability buzz words that can be applied to numerous aspects of the development industry like –costing or -assessment. In this case, we are talking about construction material lifecycles with the intention to extend them beyond one building. Why should we even try? Based on solid waste reports from the state of Georgia and a precedent setting major renovation project, Shannon Goodman, a major stakeholder in the LBC project, presents a staggering financial and environmental argument about what Atlanta can gain from the Lifecycle Building Center. Does two billion dollars in material cost savings sound attractive to anyone?

From my perspective as a LEED consultant and green building education provider, I am often challenged by my clients and students to interpret the LEED rating systems into terms easily understood by non-design professionals. Moreover, they want to know how to apply the strategies with local resources. The Lifecycle Building Center will help project teams earn three credits in the LEED-NCv2009 rating system, MRc2: Construction Waste Management, MRc3: Material Reuse, and MRc5: Regional Materials.

Because of the USGBC’s mission to transform the construction industry, it has become increasingly easier for most projects to successfully attempt and earn MRc2. Waste haulers quickly jumped on the bandwagon to provide these services that enhance their own profit bottom line. With a diligent superintendent and an extra dumpster for co-mingled debris, recycling of construction and demolition waste is becoming common practice on job sites all over the country. Just let your waste hauler know that you are pursuing LEED certification and educate the workers on appropriate materials to divert, including wood, gypsum, and concrete. With the addition of the Lifecycle Building Center, you can also keep lighting fixtures and casework out of landfills by donating it to the retail center.

It gets more difficult when you try to pursue MRc3 because there is no comprehensive strategy to sourcing reused materials, that is, until now. The Lifecycle Building Center wants to be your one-stop resource for C&D waste disposal, education, and salvaged material resources for purchase. Prior to this retail-model network for salvaged materials, designers had to rely on serendipity and wide networks to luck into the right relationships. The LBC intends to breakdown those barriers and afford all projects the opportunity to keep durable goods useful over longer lifecycles.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lifecycle Building Center Visioning Charrette

A visioning charrette for the Lifecycle Building Center project was held on June 28th at Perkins+Will's Atlanta office in order to begin exploring ideas for the use of a potential facility location on Murphy Avenue.  Attendees included representatives from Perkins+Will, Skanska, Southface, Newcomb & Boyd, Walter P Moore, Gateway Civil Engineering, LaFarge, EPA Region 4 & GA Dept. of Natural Resources.  In addition to reviewing the facility and discussing code issues, the group also discussed strategies and information related to pursuing the Living Building Challenge for the project.

We're excited to see the Atlanta community's strong support for the project and are looking forward to broadening our outreach efforts.  More information to follow soon relative to our impending fundraising campaign on Crowdrise; in the meantime, please keep an eye out for LBC news on our website at

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dumpster + Burger

Two weeks ago I went to the new location for Grindhouse Killer Burgers. The burgers were delicious, of course... as were the reuse elements of the new space. In fact, it makes this post the perfect marriage of the last two.

The bar at Grindhouse Killer Burgers NEW location
My favorite reuse element at the new location is the bar made out of old dumpsters. Wouldn't it be great if the reuse movement gained so much ground that the dumpster became obsolete? How would you reuse the dumpster? Here are some of my favorite ideas:

Dumpster GARDEN

Dumpster POOL

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Many Dumpsters Does it Take....?

Pastor Tommy and I were having a meeting one day to discuss some “stuff” over a cup of coffee. Turns out, he actually read my previous Blog, “The Clawfoot Tub” and had a few valuable points to add to the discussion of Sustainable Design and reduction of construction waste.  He shared that while he was visiting a relative; he came across a magazine called Mother Earth News and became interested in one of the articles titled “Cut Down on Construction Waste”. A few days later he took the time to scan the article and then emailed it to me.   

Having been involved with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) since 2000, and then very recently with Earth Craft Certified Homes, it was one of those stories that was encouraging to me. I'm glad to see that some people do get it!

I’ll make this one a short blog because the link to the full story is below. Without giving away the entire story, the article illustrates how a family drastically reduced the amount of construction waste by reusing 80% of the old lumber and scraps when they replaced an existing garage with a 1,500 square foot addition. They also saved a big chunk of change. So, the moral of the story is; plan your projects carefully, recycle & reuse as much of your existing materials as possible, be practical… money.

Full below.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Alex Brounstein is the owner and brains behind the Atlanta burger joint Grindhouse Killer Burgers… one of my favorite places to grab a burger I might add. The joint makes its home at the Auburn Curb Market. And, I don’t just love the food, but the design elements. Did I mention this is a reuse project?
The Space
Alex and his architecture team from Plum Avocado Design (Kim Fong + Anitra Mecadon) renovated the space with reclaimed materials. They incorporated the old brick pit barbecue into the existing kitchen, and the front of the bar and exterior wall are made of reclaimed tongue & groove boards from the nearby Pencil Factory. In November of 2010, the great work done by the design team resulted in the space winning an Atlanta Downtown Design Excellence Award from Central Atlanta Progress.
Burger + a Movie
As a fun aside, I should also mention that they play classic and cult movies on the white subway tile wall. If you haven’t checked it out, you really should. Any day now, the second location of GKB will be opening at Piedmont Road + Wimbledon Road. I can’t wait to see what they do with this space!
Future home of Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Clawfoot Tub

The Great Bath
I came across a photo album in the house a few weeks ago that I had completely forgotten about. One of the photos was of The Roman Baths, one of the largest tourist attractions in South West England. As I flipped through the photos I couldn’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of Roman engineering.  At the very heart of the site is the Sacred Spring.  Hot water at a temperature of 115°F rises out of the ground at the rate of 240,000 gallons every day and has been doing this for thousands of years.  Through an amazing network of pipes the water eventually makes its way to the centerpiece of the Complex; The Great Bath.  According to records this large bath was once covered by a barrel vault, which I imagine, made the structure even more astounding in its day. It is an example of an ancient civilization using a natural renewable resource. Today; I believe we refer to it as  Geothermal Energy. 

The Spring Overflow
While the photos of my trip triggered memories of The Roman Baths, one thought led to another, and then another, and then I came across the history of the Bath Tub. Something that ties in directly with our idea of establishing a  Lifecycle Building Center. According to Wikipedia, evidence of the earliest surviving personal sized bath tub was found on the Isle of Crete where a 5-foot pedestal tub was found built from hardened pottery.  Wish I had a picture of it. According to the Site of Amazing Facts, "The Bathtub was introduced in England in 1828. The first tub in America was used by a Cincinnati resident named Thompson in 1842. After an argument among medical authorities concerning the benefits and hazards of bathing, the Bathtub was banned in Boston in 1845. Six years later, the first Bathtub was installed in the White House for Millard Fillmore."

I wonder how many people end up throwing out bathtubs and other fixtures when they renovate their bathrooms. Looking back at some of the small bathroom remodeling projects I was involved in many, many years ago I remember using a reciprocating saw to cut up one into smaller manageable pieces,  and then carting the pieces down to the dumpster. One other time I remember taking a sledge hammer to a cast iron model. How many of those tubs have made it to our landfills; or  is being used as a  planter in someone’s garden; or is sitting in an open field somewhere? 

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), new home building generates between 3 and 5 lbs. of construction waste per square foot of home. By contrast a remodeling project can generate between 70 and 115 lbs. of waste per square foot!

I recently came across a business called Miracle Method and as my curiosity got the better of me, I ventured into their store one day. (There is one based right here in Henry County, Georgia). Miracle Method Offers A Green Remodeling Alternative. The nation's largest surface restoration company is doing their part to restore damaged and dated bathroom fixtures, tile and counter-tops, eliminating the need for replacement, and reducing the amount of unnecessary waste clogging landfills. 

If you would like more information about Miracle Method, feel free to contact Denise Martin at 1-888-271-7690.  Or visit their showroom 3904 Jodeco Road McDonough, GA 30252 (Atlanta South - Downtown, Clayton, Henry, S. DeKalb, W. Cobb, Rockdale, S. Fulton, Fayette Counties).

Using the Miracle Method. Before & After
According to Chuck Pistor, President of the 28-year old national franchise. With the Miracle Method process, homeowners avoid the expense of removal and replacement of bathtubs, related flooring, tile, and plumbing hardware. “The savings to homeowners can be as high as 75%,” added Pistor.

“With a bit of planning, a homeowner should be able to get the makeover look they want by refinishing instead of replacing. They’ll not only save themselves money, but contribute to a better environment,” says Pistor. “We like the Green approach to remodeling.”

So, next time you find yourself with a sledgehammer about to let loose on an Antique Claw Foot Bathtub, please remember there is a Green Alternative. Use it!

Shane  A. Persaud, 678.699.2308

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Renovation Nation

On the weekends when I'm logging some relaxation + TV time, I enjoy watching one of my favorite channels for inspired DIY projects... Planet Green. One of the channels shows, Renovation Nation, features how the green home building movement has really taken off across the country. A favorite episode of mine takes place in Portland where they visit a local re-use center to find unique pieces to build a balcony.

They have filmed a few episodes in Metro Atlanta and I look forward to the day our LBC is up + running for Steve Thomas and his crew to come on by for a visit. Planet Green can be found on Comcast Channel 253 and AT+T Uverse Station 465.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Reuse... it IS easy...

Hopefully the blog posts thus far have given you some inspiration for your next DIY project. But, remember that a reuse project does not need to be as large as a bathroom or kitchen renovation, small every day practices can make a huge difference. (This is especially good news for those of you who don't feel very handy...)

Oggi Sports Bottle

One website that I think is a great resource for reuse / recycling ideas is called Recycle Works a program in San Mateo County. Here are a few quick and easy ideas for reuse around your home...
  • Donate things so somebody else can use them.
  • Find ways to use things repeatedly, such as a thermos, resealable plastic bags or storage containers.
  •  Remodel using used and vintage construction materials and fixtures found at salvage yards and stores.
  •  Consider using energy and money-saving green building practices.
  •  Donate used bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts to your local packing store. Donate metal hangers to your local dry cleaner. Think about who might want your old stuff and don't be afraid to ask them.
  •  Select products that can be used over and over such as cloth napkins and dishcloths.