Siobhan Spain, interim director at the Center on Sustainable Communities, said her organization's deconstruction and reuse initiative is garnering national attention.

The group is spearheading an effort to persuade builders and renovators to find a new uses, such as home accessories, furniture and art, for discarded building materials rather that shipping them off to a landfill.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently featured the deconstruction and reuse program in its sustainability publication.

The center plans two days of activities around the subject.

From 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 17, Don Short of West End Architectural Salvage will talk about his experiences salvaging old and unique materials and provide insights into his business. The event is free for COSC members and $5 for nonmembers.

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 18, national deconstruction consultant David Bennick will lead a seminar titled "Rethinking Demolition" at Metro Waste Authority, 300 E. Locust St. Cost is $65 for COSC members and $80 for nonmembers.

"We have high hopes for impacting landfill diversion numbers in Iowa and helping put old growth lumber back in the supply chain," Spain said in an email. "There is no old growth lumber available these days and our inventory of it exists in the homes and buildings that have already been built."


The deconstruction and reuse initiative is supported by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Solid Waste Alternatives Program, another effort that has sought for years, frequently with some frustration, to divert building materials from landfills. The center also has received financial support from Metro Waste Authority, where Executive Director Tom Hadden has been a leading voice in reuse initiatives.


In addition, the center has joined with the Iowa Waste Reduction Center at the University of Northern Iowa to share funding and offer joint workshops in March and April.


Spain said an August webinar presented  attracted more than 300 people from across the country who wanted to learn more about the idea of salvaging and reusing building materials. Click here to read an article about the webinar and the deconstruction initiative.


She has received word from a South Carolina resident who wants to audit this month's events in an effort to launch a similar effort in his community.