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Another Day Another Compromise

Well, we have started to move forward on Green Oak Farm.  Not in the way we had hoped or imagined, but forward movement none the less.

Unfortunately, we were unable to deconstruct the house in the manner in which we’d initially intended. Although we had been talking with Solid State LLC, out of Muncie, Indiana for over two years about this project, when the time came to finally deconstruct the house, we just could not get the pieces to all come together. Solid State has been doing this work in Muncie for several years.  Rather than demolish old, run down houses, Solid State carefully takes them apart, piece-by-piece and then reuses and recycles the materials, sending very little to the landfill.  Most of their projects involve the architectural salvage of attractive woodwork, but even the basic structural wood components are reused to make chicken coops, dog houses and other interested structures. 

The issue arose around the licensing in our county to perform this work. In Muncie, Solid State has been doing deconstruction for several years and in that county they are not required to have a license, since this work is taking structures apart, instead of building them. Unfortunately, neither Solid State, nor we realized that to deconstruct our home here, they would be required to have a Demolition License. The folks at Solid State chose not to pursue getting a license in our county just for our house. 

A brief survey of demolition contractors in our county failed to find anyone willing to take our house apart and recycle its content. We suppose this is because there isn’t much of a market in places like Indiana for recycled building materials. So we had to make the best compromise decision we could given the realities of the situation.  

We hired a knowledgeable, hardworking fellow to remove all of the fixtures and fittings from the house. Anything of any value for reuse or recycling has been carefully detached. The kitchen cabinets were given to a dear friend who is remodeling her kitchen. The toilets, bathtubs, vanities with sinks, lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, doors, closet systems, baseboard radiaters and gutters all have been donated to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. The old boiler, air conditioner, water heater, carpets and some of the used kitchen appliances that Habitat couldn’t use were each given away to someone who could use them, all in an effort to minimize what will go to the landfill.   

We gave serious thought to stripping the double layer of asphalt roof shingles and working with a company that turns them into road paving asphalt. However, once again the reality of the situation came into play as we looked into the specific arrangements. The shingle recycling company would charge us about $250 to rent and transport the dumpster.  Add to this the cost and liability of having a couple guys on our roof for several days in the middle of a Midwestern winter. In addition, the only company in our area which recycles roof shingles hasn’t actually recycled many so far. This is because even though they have licensed a great idea to turn asphalt roof shingles into paving material, there is no market here within the state of Indiana for the asphalt they would produce. The roof shingles they have collected for the last few years are simply accumulating in a huge pile, waiting to be recycled. This was discouraging. What was the best path forward? Should we pay nearly $1,000 to tear off and send the shingles into “Pile A” which might someday be recycled, but potentially might never be recycled and go on to become unregulated, potentially toxic waste material or to simply allow them to be demolished with the rest of the house and go to “Pile B” at a monitored, regulated landfill?  No easy answers.

Long ago Tim Gray, our architect, told us that building “green” was ultimately about compromise. In order to move forward on this project compromises needed to be made. We have nearly completed stripping everything of value – for reuse or recycling - out of the house . The final Habitat for Humanity truck comes this week and then the existing house will be demolished. Our plans to build the garden shed, dog houses and firewood shelter out of reused building materials from the house will need to be revised, but we will seek out new ways to build them sustainably.  Such is our reality in Indiana today.

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Reader Comments (1)

Please read your email I sent to aekatz@greenoakfarm.com on Sunday - regarding Lumencache Investors meeting . We want to ensure you have the opportunity to join in as you are one of the investors. We plan on having the meeting in the area local to Derek. Information to follow. Thank You
Dale Pelz email dalepelz@gmail.com 404-271-2812
or Gloria Moring email gloriamoring@sympatico.ca 905-260-8305 fellow investors

February 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDale Pelz

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