Architectural salvage yards are not only a great place to find unique, vintage building materials, they are also one of the best sources of eco-friendly building materials.
Deconstructing buildings in such a way that the materials, such as joists, flooring, and fixtures, can be reused conserves resources, minimizes waste and pollution, and creates skilled jobs for workers. In many cases, reclaimed building materials are cheaper than new ones as well, making high quality building materials affordable to a wider range of the general population.
As more and more home and business owners practice green building and remodeling techniques, the market for high quality reclaimed building materials is likely to continue to grow. If you have the skills and know-how to reclaim and restore used building materials for reuse, an architectural salvage yard can be a great green business opportunity for you.
Considerations for Architectural Salvage Yards
Depending on your skills and interests, you can start a general architectural salvage yard or cater to one of the many different niches in the business. For example, some architectural salvage yards focus on a particular part of the building, such as windows or flooring, while others focus on specific materials, such as wood or glass. Some salvage yards, such as Habitat for Humanity’s popular ReStores, focus on affordable building materials, while others specialize in high quality antiques for authentic period reconstructions and restorations.
Some architectural salvage yards perform deconstruction themselves, while others purchase materials from local demolition contractors, recycling companies, and other groups. The Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA), which is dedicated to promoting eco-friendly building practices through reclaimed materials, offers accreditation in building deconstruction, which can help establish your reputation as an expert.
Websites such as the BRMA’s directory of members are also a great marketing tool for architectural salvage yards to help customers find you.
Three Eco-Friendly Architectural Salvage Yards For a Perfect Green Building
Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, CA has more than three acres of reclaimed building materials including everything from reclaimed old growth redwood lumber to bar tops and barn doors. In addition to salvaging and restoring building materials, Heritage also crafts custom furniture and other pieces from reclaimed wood. Heritage’s commitment to reducing waste through reclamation is not its only green initiatives. Many of the stacks of wood are protected from the Northern California drizzle by former billboards that owner Michael “Bug” Deakin buys in bulk for rain protection that is both durable and recycled. In addition to its huge collection of reclaimed building materials, the Heritage Salvage Yard is home to organic gardens and beehives. Deakin plans a water catchment system in the future.
ReNew Salvage, based in Brattleboro, Vt, is a non-profit architectural salvage yard committed to reducing construction waste and help low income families build affordable yet high quality housing. Proceeds from the salvage yard support ReNew Salvage’s other programs, which include deconstruction services, community workshops on topics related to green building, and job training for at-risk youth.
Founded in 1994 by a contractor and environmentalist who became frustrated after seeing the large amounts of waste produced during construction and demolition of buildings, Seattle-based Second Use remains committed to reclaiming and reusing building materials to reduce waste and create unique and beautiful eco-friendly buildings. In addition to the large salvage yard, Second Use offers demolition services and hosts free workshops for contractors, home owners, and others interested in building with reclaimed materials.
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