TEARING DOWN: Supporters say new trend in deconstructing buildings is good for the environment and economy

Posted on: 6:33 pm, March 16, 2011, by , updated on: 12:40pm, March 5, 2012

Typically you think of demolition when you tear down a building. But, the new trend is called deconstruction. And, those who do it say the practice is better for the environment and even the economy.

Duncombe Mayor Robert Taylor says it’s hard to see St. Joseph’s Catholic Church being torn down after being a part of the tiny town since 1909. He says, “We tried to see if we could save it. They said no. It had to be torn down.”

But, not everything is torn down and thrown out. Deconstruction expert David Bennink says, “We decided to try and make the best of the situation by coming in and salvaging as much as we could.”

Bennink is with a Washington state based firm called ReUse Consulting. He’s helping Iowa Community Central College students take apart the church piece by piece.

ICCC Deconstruction and Energy Efficient Retrofits Coordinator Dan Oswald says, “They’re learning how to take things apart, then how to reuse and recycle them.” Oswald says it’s the only program like it in the Midwest that trains future construction workers in this green practice.

Bennink says, “In Iowa, this industry is just kind of kicking off. We’re just getting started.” Bennink teaches special techniques to remove the stained glass windows, plank flooring and decorative features, so they’re preserved for future use. He says deconstruction is good for the environment. “We’re avoiding waste and preserving energy and natural resources and then we see a lot of our products back to green building projects.”

And, he says the practice is good for the economy. He says a deconstruction project creates 25 jobs for every one it would take to demolish a building. And, he says materials are sold to make make money. He says, “If we create demand for our service, we create demand for our materials, then that’s where contractors will pick it up and really run with this and provide the service and create those jobs.”

Oswald says students from Iowa Central Community College students will work on deconstructing buildings around Fort Dodge in the coming months.