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Clarinets to cabinets: Old is new again in thriving reuse economy

December 2, 2017by Alissa Arnold

Check out this piece from Soapbox Cincinnati that features Building Value!

Approximately 40 percent of the solid waste in landfills comes from construction and demolition projects, according to consumer information group Earth911. Northside reuse center Building Value aims to change that statistic, while at the same time providing job-training opportunities and saving consumers money.

A social enterprise of Easter Seals, Building Value provides sustainable deconstruction of buildings, salvaging usable materials from the projects for resale. The organization also trains and employs workers who are overcoming employment barriers that include low education levels, disabilities and criminal records.

“We save approximately 250 tons of materials per year from going to the landfill,” says Building Value Director David Rich. He adds that this number doesn’t include another five million pounds of concrete that was removed last year from a project for the Metropolitan Sewer District. The concrete was crushed and repurposed as road base for paving projects. “The cost for our deconstruction services is similar to that of for-profit companies,” Rich adds, “but we can offer a big tax deduction on top of that.”

The salvaged products are sold at Building Value’s retail store at up to 75 percent off the cost of purchasing similar items new. Consumers can find everything from chandeliers to toilets, but lumber and doors are among their most popular offerings. Along with salvaged items, the store sells donations received from homeowners, contractors and even from IKEA, which donates its kitchen displays whenever they are changed out.

“I probably visit (Building Value and similar businesses) at least 2-3 times per week,” says real estate investor, landlord and rehabber Tony Stroud. “The old stuff was handmade and one-of-a-kind, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. A brand new house with a couple of old pieces really makes a difference in how the house feels.”

Professionals like Stroud make up the biggest percentage of Building Value’s clientele, but Rich says in addition to homeowners and local residents, a growing number of “Pinterest people” have begun frequenting the store in recent years. “They are repurposing these materials like doors, cabinets and windows into furniture, giving them new life. We love seeing that.”

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