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Changing the Landscape of Sustainability

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October 02, 2012
This past weekend was the ASLA Conference, and Nathan Benjamin was lucky enough to address the largest gathering of Landscape Architects in the world.  It was a unique chance to take the   pulse, and to map out the future of the field.  Among the distinguished speakers were Chris DeVolder of 360 Architects, Tobiah Horton of Rutgers University, and Erin Kelly of Next Energy.
    


Nathan's presentation focused on the roadblocks and misperceptions regarding using reclaimed building materials in commercial and residential projects.  He discussed the cost effectiveness, both financial and environmental, of reusing everything from hardwood floors to bricks to stone. Today, 40 percent of landfill waste comes from building construction and demolition.  Construction and demolition waste contributes 100 Million tons to US landfill waste annually. This means that every year we trash and bury the equivalent of 273 Empire State Buildings.



Landfills are filling up fast

But there's hope.  Nathan presented an alternative to buying new, one in which building materials are recycled into sustainable, polished projects that are good for the bottom line and for the planet. Those building or renovating would think "used" before "new" and those demolishing would think "reuse center" before "trashcan."  The ASLA Conference was a great opportunity to connect as an industry, showcase best practices, and present a blueprint for a more sustainable future.  


Building a better future, together




Old Materials Reimagined in Omaha Designer Challenge

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July 03, 2012
Westroads Mall and Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Omaha have teamed up on a Designer Challenge. Check out a sample of the design vignettes. For every vote by text by July 11, Westroads Mall is donating $1 to Habitat for Humanity. The winning design will be revealed on the Westroads Mall Facebook page on July 11, 2012.




USGBC Central Plains Chapter - USGBC for Wichita Presents

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August 23, 2010
In continuing their educational outreach to help grow the local chapter presence and to educate it's members, the USGBC Central Plains Chapter - USGBC for Wichita, will be hosting Nathan Benjamin of PlanetReuse on August 26, 2010.  He will provide an overview of the company, discuss their services for the design and construction community, and review ways they promote reclamation of building materials nationwide to increase landfill diversion opportunities. 

As a follow-up to his presentation to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) -Wichita on June 15th, 2010, PlanetReuse continues its outreach efforts with design and construction professionals in the Wichita and Central Kansas region.

Please join for the luncheon at Water Center, 101 East Pawnee Street Wichita, KS.

Click here to register.

Local Sustainable Furniture Designer Highlighted in 'House and Home' section of KC Star

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May 11, 2010

This past weekend, the Kansas City Star featured the local sustainable furniture designers of Edwin Blue on the front page of the House and Home section. This environmentally-conscious company was able to turn their designs into a reality with a little help from PlanetReuse. We supplied Edwin Blue with enough sinker cypress to complete their entire first collection, 'Rise' which will be released in New York City at the 2011 International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Two other local outdoor furniture companies mentioned in the article are Acronym Designs and Studiobuild which both share a work-space in Overland Park. Founders Jared Foster of Studiobuild and Andrew Dickson of Acronym explain more about their re-purposed materials of choice in the article which you can find in it's entirety here. Enjoy!

Continue the Earth Day Commitment with LEED/Living Building Challenge Radius Requirements- SP'10- Newsletter

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April 28, 2010
Last week’s Earth Day celebration marked a wonderful upsurge in attention to sustainable activities. Many cities planned week-long activities to increase awareness of recycling and energy efficiency, offering significant opportunities to educate youth and shift mindsets for daily routines.

The official holiday is also a good time to consider your personal and professional goals for aiding the planet throughout the year. The Earth Day mindset can certainly apply to the professional world, specifically in how projects are conceived and constructed. A major way to think sustainably in the building process is to source and specify local and regional materials. This cuts down on the fuel consumption and pollution necessary to truck materials long distances.

The USGBC’s LEED requirements have successfully promoted this practice by establishing criteria that encourages sourcing materials within a 500-mile radius. Cascadia’s Living Building Challenge Project requirements raise the bar by requiring all materials to be sourced from within a more restricted radii based on material weight (250, 500 and maximum of 1,000 miles from origin/source and project site). But even projects that aren’t pursuing certification can benefit from local and regional sourcing.

PlanetReuse works with clients to source materials as close to the project site as possible, both for sustainable and financial reasons. “Not only is it good for the environment, it also cuts down on the transportation costs,” said Tim Bensman, PlanetReuse Operations Manager. “Reduced shipping costs, a smaller carbon footprint and landfill diversion all in one makes sourcing local reclaimed materials an attractive choice.”

The company helped source and coordinate many reclaimed materials for the first two projects slated for Living Building Challenge certification in the Omega Center for Spiritual Living and the Tyson Research Center at Washington University. “Providing regional, reclaimed material options can go a long way in helping design teams hit their goals,” said Nathan Benjamin, PlanetReuse’s Principal + Founder.

Sourcing materials locally reduces your projects carbon footprint, an admirable goal whether or not you plan to pursue certification. Committing to this practice keeps the purpose of Earth Day—to promote a more sustainable world—active year round.

What’s the Difference? Clarifying the Terminology Used for Wood - SP'10 - Newsletter

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April 28, 2010
While it’s the most common reclaimed material, the terminology used to define wood for sustainable projects is among the most confusing. While many wood terms have been used interchangeably, the differences can make a significant difference a project’s ability to obtain valuable LEED credits.

To qualify for MR Credit 3 Materials Reuse, your material must have been previously used. Wood from buildings count, of course, but it can also be reclaimed or salvaged from bridges, telephone poles, street pavers, ocean boardwalks or another definable function. Wherever it came from, it must have been used prior to your project’s installation to qualify.

River reclaimed materials—like sinker cypress—may be harvested from sunken trees that are several hundred years old. Though this wood often offers incredible beauty and reduces environmental impact, unfortunately these materials don’t qualify for Materials Reuse credits.

The same goes for urban reclaimed materials, which typically refers to urban growth trees removed for development. While these materials may qualify for the Regional Materials credits, they don’t meet the criteria for Materials Reuse or Certified Wood.

While reclaimed materials can legitimately carry a claim of FSC Recycled or FSC Reclaimed, these materials cannot qualify for the Certified Wood credit 7, since only new, permanently installed wood applies. However, if you empower the use of reclaimed materials on your project, they can actually help with the Certified Wood credit, as reclaimed materials are not counted towards the overall wood cost calculation.

Some also claim that reclaimed materials can count for MR Credit 4 Recycled Content, but today this is not applicable under previous or current GBCI and LEED Standards.

As a rule of thumb, if materials are applied towards the Materials Reuse credit, they cannot qualify for MR credits 1 Building Reuse, 2 Construction Waste Management, 4 Recycled Content, 6 Rapidly Renewable Materials or 7 Certified Wood (anything other than Materials Reuse and Regional Materials). And even when some materials found on an existing site are used on a new project, those materials may not always qualify for the Material Reuse credit depending upon the material, the prior use and the new use.

It seems complicated, and it can be. That’s why PlanetReuse is there, to share their in-depth knowledge and experience with these requirements in order to maximize the credits your project can receive at the lowest possible cost.

Nathan Benjamin on KCXL 1140AM/1160AM KCTO.

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December 11, 2009

Nathan Benjamin visits with the King of Green on KCXL 1140AM/1160AM KCTO about,

"the brainstorm behind his company. You want reclaimed building materials in your project. Or, you have these materials to share. PlanetReuse finds the best ways to make the connection. Your schedule and budget benefit, and so does the planet."

Below you will find the entire interview with Gary and Trish Walker on Going Green With the King.

Making Material Reuse Effortless to Save Time, Money and the Planet - F'09 Newsletter

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October 28, 2009

PlanetReuse is predicated on a simple but revolutionary idea: make it easy for people to use reclaimed materials and they’ll do more of it. That’s good for the future of sustainable building and our planet.
Studies show that as much as 40 percent of waste in landfills comes from construction projects. With billions of tons of trash produced annually and global waste production expected to double by 2013, it adds up to a staggering quantity of landfill waste. Reuse—as the purest form of recycling—helps reduce that amount.
But as Nathan Benjamin found, sourcing quality materials for commercial construction often proved difficult, and frequently architects can’t find materials early enough to incorporate into a design. That discovery led Benjamin to found PlanetReuse in 2008, with the sole purpose of taking the work out of the reuse process.
“We make the connection, handle the groundwork and guide clients through a streamlined process,” he said. “Handled efficiently, reuse is one of those rare situations with no downside. Reclaimed materials are typically available at a 15 to 20 percent savings over new. We follow a proven method that saves time and effort. And—vitally—reuse significantly reduces landfill waste.”
It all adds up to the PlanetReuse mission:to make using reclaimed building materials effortless by expertly matching materials with designers, builders and owners, saving projects money, serving LEED efforts and sustaining the planet.
The idea is resonating within the design and construction industry. The first-to-market company, which earned a Lifecycle Building Challenge award for innovation, has grown 300 percent in the last year.
PlanetReuse follows efficient, tested processes for both placement and deconstruction consulting. The company’s sweet spot is the design development phase, where they work with the architect to seamlessly integrate reclaimed materials, often reviewing drawings and specs to provide a fresh perspective. PlanetReuse sources materials, tests for quality, and documents for LEED and Living Building Challenge certification.
While the robust PlanetReuse website displays available materials and offers the opportunity to request specific items, Benjamin likes clients to consider PlanetReuse the most valuable, cost-efficient member of a project team. And if you’re looking for something you don’t see online, just ask us about it. We’ll find it---we love challenges.
“We spend every minute of every day in the reclaimed materials world. And as long-term members of the green building community, we speak your language,” Benjamin said. “It’s our mission to make your world easier through our knowledge of reclaimed materials. Like our clients, we’re very passionate about sustainable design and construction, and know that together, we can make a real difference.”

Salvaged Materials Find a Home in America’s Greenest Building Project - F'09 Newsletter

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October 28, 2009
When one of America’s greenest projects opened its doors this summer, the world learned that many of those doors were salvaged. The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) in Rhinebeck, New York debuted on July 16 as one of the world’s best showcases for reclaimed building materials. PlanetReuse was privileged to coordinate much of the salvaged building material used in the project.

The OCSL, an environmental education center and wastewater treatment facility, is expected to be certified as the world’s first Living Building Challenge project, the highest measurable standard for sustainable design and construction. The award-winning building was designed by BNIM Architects, with John Todd Ecological Design.


“So much building material heads for landfills, when instead it can find new life in new building projects,” said PlanetReuse founder Nathan Benjamin. “As the world’s greenest building, the Omega Center is a perfect showcase for salvaged materials, but it also demonstrates how easily any building can take advantage of material reuse.”

Using reclaimed materials is one of the purest ways to build green, and an important consideration for Living Building certification. To discover effective ways to incorporate these materials into the OCSL, BNIM sought out PlanetReuse, whose focus is linking reclaimed materials with the design community.

With the design team, PlanetReuse identified key areas for the use of reclaimed materials. They worked with six demolition and reclamation contractors (three not-for-profits and three for profit) to procure and test the materials, sourcing close to the project to reduce fuel consumption. The company provided documentation on every step to support the certification process. The architect and contractor valued PlanetReuse’s insight, to that point that both wished the company had been involved even earlier in the process to assist with schedule and incorporate more materials.


Reclaimed materials within the Omega Center include dimensional lumber, plywood, interior doors, beech wood paneling and toilet partitions, among many others. The materials came from warehouses, schools, office buildings and other projects within the source radius. Reclaimed materials typically offer 15 to 20 percent savings over new and their use earns significant points towards LEED accreditation.


Most significantly, reuse keeps tons of building materials out of landfills.

PlanetReuse to provide reclaimed material for the Omega Center For Sustainable Living Project (OCSL)

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November 24, 2008

PlanetReuse is working with BNIM Architects and Sember Construction to provide reclaimed materials for the Omega Center for Sustainable Living project (OCSL). PlanetReuse will source framing, structural steel, exterior siding and sheathing for the project to help meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum standards and achieve certification as a "Living Building", an ambitious project designed with total sustainability in mind.

You can read more about the OCSL project in the attached PDF here


About the OCSL

An innovative educational center, the OCSL will be the first of its kind in the United States to combine the most sophisticated green building and wastewater treatment technologies under one roof. It will serve as the heart of Omega's ongoing environmental sustainability initiatives and will include the Eco Machine™ (a water garden and constructed wetland to treat our wastewater), and a classroom for visitors—students, teachers, activists, corporate executives, elected officials—who want to learn more about green building and sustainable living.

The building will be self-sustaining, featuring the latest technology in the sustainaiblity field; it will be heated and cooled by geothermal systems and use solar and photovoltaic power. It is being built to exceed both the LEED Platinum standard and achieve certification as a Living Building. It will be a model of environmental sustainability that can be seen, understood, and replicated locally and globally.

The OCSL will protect our local ecosystem, preserve our freshwater resources, and serve as a community resource, demonstrating sustainability, ecological responsibility, and green alternatives, reminding all of us that if we take care of the Earth, the Earth will take care of us.



About BNIM Architects and the Omega Insitute

In 2006, the Omega Institute commissioned BNIM Architects to design a new 6,200 square foot facility to serve as a new and highly sustainable wastewater filtration facility. The primary goal for this project was to overhaul the organization’s current wastewater disposal system for their 195-acre Rhinebeck campus by using alternative methods of treatment. As part of a larger effort to educate Omega Institute visitors, staff and local community on innovative wastewater strategies, Omega decided to showcase the system in a building that houses both the primary treatment cells and a classroom/laboratory. In addition to using the treated water for garden irrigation and in a greywater recovery system, Omega will use the system and building as a teaching tool in their educational program designed around the ecological impact of their campus. These classes will be offered to campus visitors, area school children, university students and other local communities. Preliminary engineering work was done for the project by John Todd Ecological Design (wastewater engineer) and Chazen Companies (civil engineer). This early investigation was invaluable to the full design team in the early design phases for the building and site.

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