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Recycling and reusing material

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Recycling and reusing material

How a remodeler can save money, help the environment and become green-friendly? Reduce, recycle and reuse.

October 31, 2008
This article first appeared in the PR November 2008 issue of Pro Remodeler.

This month featuring:

Read the complete discussion below or click hereto listen to the podcast.

Tom Swartz

J.J. Swartz Company

Contributing Editor

In today's world of green, what can a remodeler do to save money, help the environment and become green-friendly to their customers? The three Rs: reduce, recycle and reuse. This discussion offers information that will help you incorporate this important process into your remodeling.

Tom: Michael, tell us a little about you and your company.

Michael: I'm Michael Anschel, I own Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build. We are based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We've been in business for 13 years, and we employee 11 people. We do a volume of $2 million to $2.5 million. This year we'll see how we shake out!

Tom: An interesting year. Don, tell us about yourself.

Don: My name is Don Ferrier. I'm the third generation in the business; my grandfather came over in 1881 from Scotland. The state of Texas was building their new state capitol building and they were soliciting subcontractors. He and three brothers came; my dad and two of his brothers continued the business, namely, in structural concrete, building bridges and culverts for the State of Texas. I actually worked 15 years with them, and was an owner in the Ferrier Brothers Bridge Company for the last 7 years. In 1980 we had people approach us wanting to build a earth shelter home. We started doing that and gradually got in to the residential section. We had Ferrier Builders and Ferrier Custom Homes. We did the remodeling under Ferrier Builders and the residential and some light commercial under Ferrier Custom Homes. Last year, with the combination of both companies, we did about $3.5 million.

Tom: You're from the Fort Worth area?

Don: Yes. I was born in Fort Worth. I've spent the majority of my life around here, except for college and working for a college in public relations for two years.

Tom: Don, define with examples recycling and reusing — is there a difference and what is that difference, if any.


Don Ferrier, Ferrier Companies

Don: There is a difference, Tom. Reuse is the better of the two, typically. For instance, on a job where we're going to have some lumber — 2 by 4 studs, 2 by 6 ceiling joists or whatever it is — we establish a location, that if anything is cut, if it is 6 feet or longer that is left, it goes in this pile so we can reuse that somewhere else. The recycling would come in if we can't use it. There are two different options we use. One is a company in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that has a packer grinder. It's like a wood chipper, but it's a big monster of a thing! They will take all the wood scraps, Sheetrock and some cement, things like that. They'll grind it up on the job. It becomes a mulch that we incorporate in the landscaping. The other one is Silver Creek Materials. We have it hauled out to them and they grind it up and put it in a mulch that they will resell.

Tom:  Michael, I said recycling and reuse and you added a word, reduce. What is the difference to you?

Michael: Don nailed it in the difference in reuse and recycling. With the reduce component, when we look at a project we start with the reduce, then we move to reuse and then recycle. In terms of importance, the very first thing we can do is find out ways to reduce the overall impact of the project. That may mean that the project is smaller; it may mean that we tear out less material than we normally would. In the traditional project, we'd gut everything. We're going to have an eye to try to keep materials in the house, so we reduce the amount of waste we have to deal with in general. By keeping the project smaller, we reduce the amount of material that we buy in the first place. The reduce category is the area where you can have the greatest amount of impact.

Tom: Does it save or cost more money to recycle and reuse?

Michael: In general, we look at this as a cost-cutting measure. We have smaller Dumpsters on site, and we have fewer Dumpsters coming to our projects. We did a second-story addition, so essentially a one-story single family house built on top of an existing house. Our total waste on the project was 9 cubic yards. Where we would normally have had two 40-yard Dumpsters, we had 3, 3-cubic-yard Dumpsters.

Tom: How does it happen?


Michael Anschel

Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build

Michael: When we look at buying material and bringing it to the job site, we try to be a little more careful in terms of what we're ordering. We try to keep the job order waste down as much as possible. That may mean using something like a cut list, being strategic with the material we buy so that we have as little waste as possible. When it comes to the reuse of the material or going out and finding something that already exists, it's usually a lot less expensive than buying something new off the shelf. I can pick up doors, nice two- or three-panel solid core doors from 1920 that would cost me $1,000 to buy. I can pick them up for $100. So that's all cost savings for us. Less waste means money in our pocket and less expensive materials to bring into the project.

Tom: That's one of the things I've heard. Michael has almost dispelled a little myth. I've heard that the costs were a lot more. How do you find the costs when it comes to recyclable and reused materials?

Don: I think that what you find, in our experience, is when you initially start on it, you're going to have more. There's a sales aspect to this to your own people, your superintendents and your subs. The construction industry typically is used to throwing it in a pile that some subcontractor comes in with a dump truck or a Bobcat, in our area, and takes it to a landfill, or it's going into a Dumpster. It is a new thought process. What we have found, very similar to Michael's, as we have done this now for about seven years, is that it becomes second nature. If you properly train your subs, and they come on board, then even they see how it does help and that, in the end, it does save us money. But there is a learning curve to it, in our experience. What Michael said about the reduce, those are the “three Rs” and that was well put, Michael. We create a list of materials so that what we order and what the framer actually installs are on the same page. We've got this wall, here's the 15-foot treated plate, here's the single top plate that's 16-feet, and you've got to cut a foot off of it. We're going to put our studs in advanced framing; they're going to be on 20 point centers with a single top plate. We're not going to have them on 160inch centers. There's not a header necessary, we're going to specify that. If there is a header, we're going to have it sized. Therefore, the framer is not going to have five boards to try to figure out which ones we want him to choose from. At that time, it's going to be a scenario where it's all specified. You've got a list that correlates to walls and you're using less because of that as well. As we've gotten heavily into both LEED-H for homes and started about a year a half ago using the LEED prototype for remodeling. Also with the NHBs, they have the guidelines and we're using their prototypes of the standards which are very similar to the LEED-H. It also has additions and remodels; using those. We have five projects going now that we're following both of those, the LEED and the NHB.

Tom: Don, how do you market that to your customer? Do you pass the costs on to your customers, do you mark it up; do you mark it up the same? It is a normal markup or a little less markup?

Don: We're marking it all up the same. As far as the recycling and projects like that, how do we market that? We've been very fortunate to have had last year about 58 newspaper and magazine articles written about us. People come to us primarily because they want that. A common comment we have among the clients or prospective clients that come to us: “We've looked and looked for a builder/remodeler who knows how to do this, and we're so thrilled we found you.” They've gone to so many who said it's overrated, they don't do that or it's going to cost way too much money. I tell them basically what they're saying is, “We don't know how to do it — we've never done it.” You even go back to building bridges and culverts for the state of Texas. Those folks came to me in 1981 and said “We want to build an earth-sheltered house.” You've got a concrete box, three concrete walls, a concrete roof and a storefront basically on the front that faces south for passive solar. We've talked to 12 concrete contractors. All of them will do the floor. Half of them will do the walls. Nobody wants to do the roof because they never do it. It's the same thing here.

Tom: You don't do the traditional advertising in the paper or mail-outs or anything of that nature?

Don: We have done in the past. Fortunately, those days right now are gone.

Tom: Michael, what separates you? Are you perceived as being conservative to the environment? How do you market to your customers to get people to understand what you're doing?

Michael: I've listened to Don talk, and we've never met. Yet, our experiences are similar. We have a lot of articles written about what our firm does.

Tom: Who writes them?

Michael: Local newspapers, magazines, some national magazines; it's the third-party referral that's worth its weight in gold. We can't buy that with an ad.

Tom: How did you get the first article; did you go to the local newspaper and say, “I've got a story”?

Michael: We do send out press releases. We tell the media what we're doing. We tell them we've got a project. We use a standard called Minnesota Green Star. It's a green building standard similar to LEED for Home standard, but for existing homes as well. It's new, and there's a lot of interest in it. The fact that we're doing a silver or gold level project gets some attention. We've become, in this market, the experts in green building. Now, I sit on the Mayor's council to help develop policies for cities because of that experience. It has given us an opportunity to fill up and expand a niche that didn't exist ten years ago. At the same time, it brings other remodelers into this niche as well. That's been a big focus of mine. Through that, they talk about your company and that also helps. There's seven or eight different ways to bring that to market.

Tom: Both of you use articles. You're saying you do press releases, which I would condone. This is a new process. Michael, what is the perception and reality of what this does for the environment, especially in the perception of the customer. Does the environment play a part in this?

Michael: It does. As we shift to talking about just “green building” in general now. Most of our clients come to us because they feel that, because of what they've read or seen on our Web site, we have a strong commitment to the environment, a strong commitment to design and a strong commitment to quality construction. It's those three things together that allow us to do what some of our peers struggle to do, especially in a market like this. Most definitely, our client base has a concern that they're building and remodeling in of itself is inherently bad; that we're “consuming stuff.” If we can do that in a way that minimizes that impact, they're going to feel better about it. It's feeling good about what you're doing and the role that you play. Believe it or not, the biggest seller is that “indoor environmental” bit. When we talk about the health and safety of their children, the willingness to spend money for something like that far exceeds anything that someone's willing to spend for energy savings.

Tom: Don, what is your explanation on how this pertains to the environment and the perception of your customers and how that's important?

Don: It is important. Everything Michael says really echoes with what we have. I'll add one more thing to the articles and the press releases. There are so many folks in the media out there looking for articles. This is such a hot topic! Once you start to establish yourself and people start to see you, then they come back and say, “I don't want to do another Heather's home project because my competitor did that. But do you have another project we can do?” You really kind of get in a loop where it's almost a feeding frenzy. “Give us another article, do you have something you're doing?” You start to prove to them what you're doing. It's all because there are people out there, Tom, that want this. Our No. 1 clients are Baby Boomers. They're looking to build the last house they ever plan to build, or they want to make the house they have more comfortable, and more healthy. Usually with the Baby Boomers, for us, the first comment is, “We want to do something here that's actually going to save us money.” They want to reduce their energy bills, they want to be comfortable with it, they want a good quality of life. The second most common client we have is someone in their late 30s to late 40s. Their first comment, typically, is, “It's the right thing to do. We want to build this way even though it's probably in an overall sense initially going to cost us more. In the long run, it's going to pay itself off, so it will put money in our pockets.” The Baby Boomers are typically looking at their pocketbook, and secondly they'll say it's the right thing to do. The younger groups are typically saying it's the right thing to do first and they are willing to invest in that. I think it's going to save money too. We hear this over and over.

Tom: Don, does this primarily affect only older homes, or is there a benefit for a new home?

Don: The majority of homes that we're doing are older homes. There may be something that's typically somewhere in the 1950s up to the 1970s. Usually you've got more energy saving potential on a remodel than you do in a new home. A new home today is built to the energy code. One of our new homes built the way we do is usually going to use 1/3 of the energy that a conventional new custom home is. Tom, to your question to Michael of how did we get this started. We won some national awards. The first thing we won was the Energy Value Housing Award. We learned of it in 2004, applied for it in 2005. We won an award for the most energy-efficient custom home in a hot climate given out by the National Association of Home Builders research center, the Department of Energy, and the National Renewal Energy Lab, also a government entity. In their press release it said we were in the nation's energy-efficient building elite. We've also won some similar awards on remodeling projects. That put us on the scene at a national level. We started getting local articles about that. Then the same reporters who first came to us back in 2004 when this was first released are still coming to us. The energy-efficient savings that you asked about, most homes are drafty. In our climate, keeping the hot summer sun out is a real No. 1 for energy efficiency. The rules on energy efficiency for remodeling a new home are almost exactly the same. No. 2 for us, we want to make it as tight as possible. Of course we need to control indoor air quality. We want better insulation. In our hot climate, we're more concerned, the Department of Energy says, four times more critical for the insulation on the roof than it is in the walls. We take that into these projects and, as Michael said earlier, then you get into the indoor air quality. Healthy areas are very important. That's one of the three main things people come to us for. Whether it's a remodel or a new home. You've got the energy-efficiency, you want the indoor air quality and it's the right thing to do. There have been several articles and research done about that. I'll happen to actually have the books in front of me. One is called “The Healthy Green” and the other one “The Pocketbook Greens”. They're concerned that if I spend on a remodel and it's going to cost me and extra $200 a month to pay for that in the mortgage, or the home improvement loan, but I'm going to save $250 cutting energy bills because I've reduced my energy consumption that much. It's just paid for itself. The other one is kind of the environmental view “we're doing the right thing for the whole world.”

Tom: Michael what's your comment on this recycling and reuse for older homes, and does it affect new homes?

Michael: It affects everything. It can be used for all projects. There's a general sense that it's more applicable to existing homes, specifically to reuse and recycling. New home builders can do it as well. Advance framing and cut lists can reduce a framing package by 12 to15 percent. That's saving. And, if you're smart about your waste you can reduce your Dumpster loads. If you can pull an extra $400 off that — when you're talking about reducing the cost of a house by $1,000 to $1,500 easily just by a couple of small changes. Nothing dramatic, nothing that the client has to buy into. Just an internal process. For all the new home builders who complain that there's an additional cost by using a quality insulation, or using a higher efficiency appliance, they can make it back on the other side. At the same time, if they do something like advance framing they've got more insulation in the structure, the house is more efficient, they end up buying smaller equipment that costs less. There's definitely an impact for the new home builder that tends to be sort of brushed right past. They think that because it represents a change, it represents thought. For the remodelers, the existing house, the opportunity on salvaging material on deconstruction, can go into the process of deconstruction rather than demolition. That creates material that could be reused, could be recycled. It's an easy step and it's an important step that they can take. The integration of reused material into that project, in many ways, is easier for remodelers when it comes to finished materials. When you're working on a 1920s house, it makes sense to go out and find 1920s millwork and 1920s doors to bring into the project so that everything matches rather than buying all new.

Tom: Talk about the good, bad and the ugly. We talked about the good. I'm interested because it sounds like if you're smart and strategic about it, you could save some money. That might be a good point. Michael, what are the major drawbacks to recycling in terms of time cost? As the remodelers are reading this article or listening to it, and want to know, “If it sounds too good to be true, it's probably too good to be true!” What's the drawback of it?

Michael: There is no drawback to sending your stuff out to be recycled. Just so everyone's clear on that. If you want to sort on site, it takes some training. You've got to have some guys who are going to pay attention and are going to think about it. Most old-school carpenters want to do that by nature. They hate the idea of throwing out half a sheet of plywood. They hate the idea of throwing out half a stick of lumber. The younger guys tend to want to just throw it away. If that's where your crew's at, make a selection with your Dumpster company with your rolloff to select one that actually engages in the process of sorting the material and recycling. You can get 60 to 65 percent of the material in the Dumpster recycled. That means you don't have to do anything different in your business. Some Dumpster companies will give you money back if you sort materials into three different boxes. We get, for example, steel and copper, we actually get money back from the Dumpster company. The bad would be when you're bringing material into the project, this is where you have to be careful. If you're going out and sourcing millwork or doors to bring into the project, you have to be cognizant of the fact that lead was used for a long time as an additive to paint. If you bring in material that has been painted, you may be bringing lead into the house and that's a health concern. That's an issue. If you're going to do grinding, you've got to make sure that you don't throw any painted material into the heap that's going to get ground up for the same reason. You don't want to grind that lead up and spread it around the yard. There's a concern there. Obviously, with things like tile and asbestos, you want to make sure that's removed properly. You don't want to throw that in with everything else. When you're going to buy new materials you need to keep an eye toward what they may be coated with or what type of exposure they may have had before you bring them into your project. Other than that, I don't really see a downside. Maybe in the areas of windows; windows are not something that should be reused. If there's an old window, it should not come back into the house. It looks pretty, but it's so inefficient. The seals are so suspect that it's not a good idea. Windows are where I draw the line.

Tom: That's great. You've brought in the lead-based paint, that's important to know. You've brought up asbestos and the aspects of hazardous materials that have to make their way to a special area. I think that is a drawback. It takes more time to sort things. Don, what kind of drawbacks do you see for a remodeler who wants to get into recycling and reuse and be more “green.”

Don: I think it's what we talked about earlier, Tom. It's the education. Subs, vendors aren't going to be used to that; your own people aren't going to be used to it. There are going to be some that feel like this “green thing” is way overrated and a bunch of hype. There will be some resistance, some passive aggressive and some pretty blatant. But there will be a lot who see the wisdom in it and jump on board. That's my experience. We've got this interesting scenario that we operate within, and we compete with. We've got a lot of people who are competing in remodeling and new homes purely on cost. “Oh, you'll build it for this? Well, instead of a poker game I'll raise you, well I'll lower it. I'll go down and be a little cheaper.” Then you get into the situations that Michael and I are in and we're not competing on price. We're competing on quality, upon the health, upon the energy savings, and long range things. That's why people come to us. We build 95 percent of our new homes out of structural insulated panels. There's a big savings; we don't have any waste on our outside walls and our roofs because of that. And, we also get a great air-tight structure, and great insulation. Probably half of our remodels have some kind of addition to them that we will do out of SIPS the majority of the time. The biggest obstacle to us has just been getting the people to understand why we're doing it and commit to do it. Like Michael said, if you've got three different bins out there, either they put it in the right bin or you're going to have to come back and put it in the right bin. It does take a little different approach, because they're not just throwing it all into one big Dumpster, as most people are used to doing.

Tom: Michael, do you see any code considerations to recycling and reuse?

Michael: That's a good question, Tom! Definitely! We have code considerations. With windows. We have a great climate here were we have -60 winters and 100 degree summers. Our energy code is very, very strict. Windows have a minimum rating that they must be at in order to be installed. That means that it's going to be very challenging for you to reuse a window in a house; I made the comment that it's not a good idea. That's where you're in conflict with the code. Another would be when you start to bring lumber into a structure that has been reused, you've got to make sure that if it's being used in any sort of structural fashion, it has not been placed under stress when it shouldn't have been. So you know that it will perform the way it's supposed to. It can't have excessive holes, nails or chips or parts missing. Reused material in structural application is challenging. You've got to be really careful there. You may run into a code official who sees material that is obviously reused in that application who might tell you to pull it out.

Tom: Don, do you see any code considerations down in Texas?

Don: I haven't really had anything that I could pinpoint like Michael has. We do have energy requirements on the windows. As far as recycling, reuse and reducing, you get extra points under the LEED and NAHB programs. One if you even investigate it. If you actually participate you get points. If you document how much you did recycle versus how much you sent to the landfill, and if you get to a certain level, you get extra points there. There is a non-code thing, but it is something that is measurable.

Michael: The documentation process Don mentioned is with the green building standards, it's something you have to do. For us, sending it to be recycled is easy. To get the material in to be reused requires a little research and work, but it's also fairly easy. The documentation part is the part that I think is so important, and at the same time, requires a little extra effort. That's the part people resist most. When you hear about the cost of green building, I don't think it has anything to do with construction. I think it has to do with needing to document the process. The problem I have with that is that we should be documenting our process. We should know how much we're sending out for recycling, how much waste we have on every project, and what our cost savings are when we reuse material or we reduce the amount of lumber installed on a project. That's just good business!

Tom: Michael, can you give me an example of manufacturers that may be good resources for recycling and reuse?

Michael: Manufacturers are not going to be resources for recycling or reuse; they're not involved in the process.

Tom: Good point, Michael, they want to sell a new product.

Michael: There is a lot of confusion, I think I made the comment before. You've got recycled, you've got recyclable, and you've got recycling. They are all very different. Recycling is when you're sending that material away to be turned into some other product or to get back into the manufacturing stream. That's important. Then, you've got products that have recycled content; whether it's 100 percent or 50 percent, now you're using a product that is engaging that material that you sent out, putting into a new product. You're bringing that into your structure. I don't care about 5, 10, or 15 percent recycled content, that's sort of a throw away. Manufacturers who are producing products that are 50, 70 or 100 percent post-consumer recycled content; that's really saying something. That's a product that you can say is a good thing to bring in. There is a roofing product called EcoStar that's made out of post-consumer recycled tires. It looks like slate, and is a great material to put on your roof. It's more durable than asphalt shingle, and is made out of recycled content. If and when you choose to replace it, it can go back into the manufacturing stream again.

Tom: Don, can you give an example where manufacturers play a part in this as a resource or anything of that nature?

Don: I do. We buy structural insulated panels from Fischersips out of Louisville, Kentucky. We've had a long, rewarding relationship with them. They always start, as most SIP manufactures do, with an 8 by 24 foot blank, jumbo panel. One sheet of OSB. That's 8 by 24 on either side. Sandwiching a core of EPS, or expanded polystyrene. They will then cut those down to fit the job, all of the EPS that they have is reground and put back into the new EPS that's made. All of the OSB that's cut down, they can't reuse that panel. They've got a window opening that's cut out it's 3 by 3 feet. You're not going to use that somewhere else. The foam is reused into new foam and the OSB part of it would then be ground into a mulch that would be used at that point. The EPS, commonly called styrofoam which is a trademark of the Dow Chemical Company. It's actually not that, but similar, and it's reused over and over again.

Tom: Last question, and then we'll do a summary and last comments to remodeleing contractors out there. Where do you go to learn this stuff? Are there any certifications that are out there? Mike, where do I go, and are there training places, which equates to certification for this?

Michael: Going back to our last statement, we talked about recyclable. I just wanted to throw that out there. When we talk about “green washing,” recyclable is a word that there should be a big red flag that goes out. Almost everything is recyclable. Recyclable doesn't make the product “green”. Greenwashing is bad, like whitewashing.

Tom: Just because it says it's recyclable doesn't make it wonderful for the environment, for energy or for cost.

Michael: Exactly.

Tom: I'm glad you pointed that out! Where do you go to learn this stuff?

Michael: I have this wonderful consulting firm called Verified Green that will come out and teach you. There's a lot to read. Lester Brown has a book called “Plan B 3.0.” I recommend that one. There's a book by Christopher Alexander called “A Pattern Language.” You've got some authors like David Johnston, “Green From the Ground Up,” which is builder-friendly and full of pictures, and easy to navigate; and “Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time.” Wayne Grady, “Green Home in the Early 90s.” I don't think that certifications for an individual have value. I probably run the risk of making some at NAHB and NARI angry at me by saying that. I think that it makes it difficult for the consumer to understand the difference between a certified project and a certified professional. I think it's so critical when we talk about green building that we are using standards that are uniform, so that we're comparing apples to apples. Certifications are dangerous.

Tom: I hope you won't catch any flak. Certifications to me equate to education. You have to have education to get the certification.

Michael: Yes. If the education is rigorous, then I think it's a good thing. I had an issue with the 2-D program, it's a 6-week program that hands out a certificate. Hopefully you'll learn enough. Anyone who really understands green building, and has really sunk their teeth into it and has learned it, has learned that they don't want to go around promoting themselves as a certified green professional.

Tom: Don, where are you going to go learn this?

Don: It's like Michael. It's been a 30-year adventure here to get where I am. It didn't come overnight. I learned as much as anything from clients saying, “We want to do this”. I said, “let's explore that.” Now it's become so much more mainstream, you've got a bunch of books that are great. I've read several of David Johnston's books. One that made an impact on me was “The Cradled Cradle” by William McDonough. I heard him speak a couple times and he really expanded this for me greatly in his talk and his book. I agree with Michael as far as whether it's a LEED or NAHB Certification that take in 2, 3, or 4 days. There's a danger in that, but it's also a great place to jump into to get started. Usually your local Builder's Council or associates, your Remodeler's council or NARI is going to have more and more. There is a demand for green. We have a consulting firm as well, a branch of our company. We speak regularly on different things, from realtor associations to builders. There's a multitude of opportunities now to learn about this. EEBA, I believe it's Energy and Environmental Builders' Association. It's really cutting edge on healthy durable energy-efficient homes and the ways to do that. Those are all great options.

Tom: What would you tell a remodeling contractor out there who hears about this recycling and reusing and is not sure about it? I'm looking for one bit of advice that you would give.

Don: I would tell him that it's something that will be an investment in the beginning. It will be a learning curve, but will be very rewarding. It'll not only be rewarding for him, but he's going to find he'll have more customers and people that are more satisfied with his projects. The people who “get this” — especially the clients — they don't want it any other way. If you're not going to do it, they're going to find a contractor who does. It's much like Michael said. If you do a whole house renovation that typically would have 3 to 4, 30-yard Dumpsters going out, and maybe in the end you don't have that going to the landfill. Maybe you've got 10 yards that went to the landfill and everything else was reused or recycled. We just finished a 3,000 square-foot home and literally had a pick up a load that went to the landfill. There is something in the clients that want that, and get that and are just so gratified to see it. It's really very gratifying to yourself. It will help your business.

Tom: Michael, you're going to give some lasting thoughts to a remodeling contractor who comes to you and says, “Michael, you've done this and I need your help.” What are you going to tell him?

Michael: I would tell him to embrace it. Hopefully he's coming to us asking for advice because he's got to do it because it's coming, and will be a requirement at some point. So, embrace it and I would pick up a building standard, a LEED for homes, or Minnesota GreenStar, the NAHB, and read it, learn it. And go pick up another program in another state and read and learn it. Take that time, make that investment in your company to really understand what it is and how it works so you can explain it to your staff. Like anything else in business, making sure that the person who is going to be bringing that knowledge to the rest of the company has got a solid understanding of what it is first. It's so critical. I would encourage them to be patient, and accept the fact that there's very little black and white in a green world. There's a lot of change, and you've got to be able to roll with it all. I know that's not very concrete advice.

Tom: That's good advice. Now, a summary. We talked about the difference between recycling, reuse and reduce. We talked about the cost of recycling and reusing. I thought it would be a lot higher, it was strategic ordering and other things of that nature. You brought to light that you could actually save some money.

We talked about marketing and the best way to do it is through press releases, third party testimonials and articles and getting on the website; this is a hot topic that people are after. We discussed environmental issues. It becomes very important. Depending on the client, some want the comfort and save money first. And then, it's the right thing to do. Maybe to the young people mainly the right thing to do, saving money is secondary. Energy and indoor environmental conditions are very important today.

It does affect older homes; but also affects the new homes in many ways. A very important thing Michael brought up, is that there are savings! I'm sitting here a little skeptical, and you brought it right. You said if you order right, and it's less Dumpsters, you're going to save money. It affects all projects.

Drawbacks that I could see, is that you have to keep the material at the site. It takes special sorting. You do have to deal with paint, lead paint, asbestos tile, make sure it does not get back into the recyclable Dumpster.

It's very critical in education, especially of trade contractors and vendors. Some think it's over-rated, but there is wisdom. There are some people out there who think this is very important.

We mentioned code considerations. Michael brought up a very important one. You can't just reuse it to reuse it. It has to be code-compliant. Although, that's not a huge issue. The key to this, you both agreed, if you're going to do this, you need to have documentation and it has to be measurable.

The manufacturers are OK. You like to buy from manufacturers that use recyclables like the shingle that you use. It's 50 or 75 percent of it looks and acts like a shingle, but it's using much more environmental and energy-efficient material. Just because it's recyclable doesn't mean that it's right. You referred to that as a “greenwash”.

The certifications; some think that they're more important than others. The fact of it is that we do need it. We brought up books by Lester Brown, Christopher Alexander, David Johnston and Wayne Grady and others.

The key to this is that if you're going to do this you need to embrace it. It will become a requirement. Read it, learn it, and invest in it! Don you summarized it very well, once you get it, it is an investment. There is a learning curve, and it is rewarding. Once people “get it” you don't want it any other way.

I think it all is very interesting!

Gentlemen, you've done a great job, it's been fun for me. Any last thoughts, Michael?

Michael: No, I think you've done a wonderful job. This is a great way to present it to present it to readers. Hopefully, they'll find some benefit in listening to us.

Tom: Don?

Don: I think it's been very rewarding and we've all learned something.

Tom: For Michael Anschel from Minneapolis, Minnesota and Don Ferrier from Fort Worth, Texas. Gentlemen, it's been great, thank you very much.


This month featuring:

Michael Anschel, Owner

Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build, Minneapolis

The firm focuses on green building and urban living and has been in business for 13 years. It has 11 employees and expects volume for this year to be $2 million to $2.5 million.

Don Ferrier, Owner

Ferrier Companies, Fort Worth, Texas

Ferrier Builders and Ferrier Custom Homes offer remodeling and new construction, with about $3.5 million in combined annual revenues.

How to find the best ways to manage job site waste

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