Reclaimed Materials Workshop Synopsis

Last week Chuckanut Builders hosted a Reclaimed Materials Workshop in conjunction with Sustainable Connections and it was great.  About 30 folks attended the workshop, representing homeowners, contractors, designers and more.  The focus of the workshop was to identify the obstacles surrounding the use of reclaimed materials and brainstorm solutions.

Timing, cost and storage were pretty quickly identified as the primary obstacles.  The timing piece eludes to the amount of time it often takes to locate reclaimed materials, cost is the fact that it is often more expensive to use reclaimed materials than new and the storage relates to businesses keeping extra reclaimed materials on hand for future use (whether it be the Re-Store or general contractors).

Possible solutions included: creating an organized stream of resources, sending materials lists to Re-Sources early in the design phase of projects and for contractors to chose carefully which clients to suggest reclaimed materials to.  The organized stream of resources seems to hold alot of promise to us.  This could be a website where available materials are listed, businesses that sell reclaimed materials or seconds could list their items and it could house a forum for home owners, designers, and contractors to ask questions about reclaimed materials.

One interesting fact jumped out at me during the workshop was that the use of reclaimed materials is really all about the clients.  That is not to say every job can’t include reclaimed materials, because every job can.  It means that some projects can utilize reclaimed framing, doors, hardware and windows and other projects might only include reclaimed hardware.

Using reclaimed materials on big projects isn’t easy yet, maybe it will be someday.  Until then we need to continue both this conversation and encourage clients to use reclaimed materials where it makes sense for them.