The Green Column #14

Three Workshops Promote Greener Construction, Remodeling

November 8, 2009—International treaties help build new green economies. Federal, state and municipal legislation also encourage progress. But in the end, much change is local, voluntary and individual.

Three workshops—two on Friday and one a week later—will bring together Lincolnites interested in promoting greener construction and remodeling practices.

The first workshop, Deconstruction and Construction Waste Reduction, runs from 9 a.m. till noon Friday. My introduction on green economics will be followed by presentations from a panel of local experts on what can be recycled, where to take different wastes and opportunities for re-manufacturing in Lincoln. A vision for new eco-industrial parks will be outlined.

Every day more than 800 tons of waste is hauled to the Bluffs Road landfill, 6.2 pounds per person in Lancaster County. Truckloads of construction and demolition (C&D) debris—lumber, drywall and masonry—are dumped, some waste from new construction sites, some jumbled remains of demolished buildings and remodeling projects.

Reducing the amount of C&D wastes disposed of in Nebraska’s communities will provide numerous benefits including fewer new landfills and less methane gas that contributes to global climate change. Moreover, reducing, reusing and recycling C&D materials offset the need to extract and consume new resources, which also reduces air and water pollution. Homeowners, developers and other property owners are increasingly aware of both the economic and environmental benefits of the three R’s.

Steve Liechti, manager of EcoStores Nebraska, will present photos documenting the deconstruction process in Lincoln. EcoStores is a retail warehouse at 530 W. P St. devoted to selling second-use building, construction and remodeling material. The store stocks materials from deconstruction projects as well as donated building materials from remodelers and homeowners. Inventories include windows, doors, bricks, light fixtures, sinks, lumber and hardware. These items are sold to landlords, do-it-yourselfers, bargain hunters and low-income homeowners at discount prices.

In operation for five years, EcoStores has put over $100,000 a year back into the economy through deconstruction projects. Since 2004, more than 350 tons of materials have been diverted from landfills.

EcoStores’ deconstruction crew is comprised primarily of youth from local employment programs. The youth gain employment as well as marketable construction skills.

Worshop panelists will include Gene Hanlon, Lincoln’s recycling coordinator, Carrie Hakenkamp, director of WasteCap Nebraska, and a presentation about Straw, Sticks and Bricks, a local family business with new building products made from locally recycled materials.

The second workshop, Retrofitting Buildings for Efficiency, will present strategies to retrofit buildings for greater energy and resource efficiency. This will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.

It’s wonderful that new net-zero houses and LEED platinum office buildings are being built, but buildings have long lives. Lincoln has a few structures dating back to the late 1800s and a substantial number from the early 1900s. The average Lincoln home was built in 1972. Therefore, retrofitting existing buildings is one of our biggest challenges.

Remodeler Tom Duey of Duey Enterprises will discuss the green remodeling process. I will discuss existing homes and buildings, and outline green renovation options with paybacks from one year to 15 years and longer. Nebraska State Energy Office representatives will discuss Energy Star appliances.

The third workshop, Auditing Buildings for Energy Efficiency, will explore how to train neighborhood-based energy auditors. These auditors will help home and business owners identify resource conservation measures that provide the greatest economic and environmental benefits. This workshop will be held on Friday, Nov. 20, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Representatives from Lincoln Electric System and Black Hills Energy will describe how they train auditors and seek public input on developing strategies for increasing the number of energy auditors serving Nebraska.

After these November workshops in Lincoln, EcoStores Nebraska plans to expand its training for resource efficiency to Omaha, Grand Island, North Platte and other Nebraska communities. The workshops are sponsored by Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities under a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality with many local partners.

A $10 registration fee is required for each workshop. All workshops will be held at the Lancaster County Cooperative Extension Education Center, 444 Cherrycreek Road. Since seating is limited, interested parties should reserve seats by calling EcoStores at 477-3606 or download a registration form

“These are not issues that are dealt with by a president signing something,” said Mark Roseland, author of the book Toward Sustainable Communities: Resources for Citizens and Their Governments. Rather, Roseland said, they involve “mobilizing societies so that people are changing the way they deal with carbon in their lives.”

Americans are doers. We don’t wait for the authorities to decide. When there’s a problem, Americans go to work solving it. I urge you to attend one or more of these workshops and help us steer our country toward a greener future.

© Lincoln Green by Design