A Detailed Look into Reusing Salvaged Materials


With the preconstruction phase of the Brock Environmental Center almost complete, the project team has planned out specifically how the salvaged materials collected from various sources in the area will be used in the building.

Using salvaged materials is a significant part of attaining Living Building Challenge (LBC) and LEED Platinum certifications. In this post we will give you the specific details of how each of the salvaged materials will be reused in the Center and the benefits they will have on the environment.

Fallen oak tree reused as desk tops and benches

A very old live oak tree that had fallen on someone’s property was delivered to the site to be used for desk tops and benches. The tree was flat cut into 1” and 2” thick solid slabs of wood and will provide oblong and oblique-shaped surfaces to meet the Health Petal requirement of the LBC.

The Health Petal of the LBC focuses on creating robust, healthy spaces and envisions a “nourishing, highly productive and healthful indoor environment.” One imperative of this petal, called “Biophilia,” requires projects to be designed to include natural shapes and forms from the environment. By having the slabs be oblong, it will contribute to creating the natural shapes to meet the Health Petal requirements.

Reclaimed cypress reused for exterior siding

One requirement of the LBC’s Materials Petal states all wood must be certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) 100% labeling standards, from salvaged sources. Therefore, reclaimed FSC-rated cypress will be used as the siding material for the entire exterior building wall finish system.

The cypress used for the building is classified as reclaimed because it is 75 to 100-year-old cypress that has fallen in its original growth location.  The use of this wood as siding will eliminate the need to timber original-living cypress trees.

Reuse of old wood doors eliminates the need to source new timber

A local business that built a new building in place of its previous facility donated old wood doors to the Brock Environmental Center for re-use.  This reclamation of items will eliminate any new sourcing of timber and fabrication required for new wood doors.

Old school gym bleachers donated for interior trim

Salem Middle School, a local Virginia Beach school, donated the wood from its old gymnasium bleacher seating. The bleachers will be incorporated into the design to accommodate the interior wood trim at the base of every wall and around each door and window frame.

Salvaged ceramic tile reused in restrooms

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has salvaged some of its ceramic tile from a previous project to be used as the wall finishes in the Brock Environmental Center’s restrooms. In addition, the building will be a net-zero water facility. One way this will be accomplished is by using a “rainwater collection system” that will reroute rainwater to bathroom sinks for use in hand washing.

“Number 3” stone used for temporary roads and staging areas

Temporary roads and staging areas will be made of a large stone known as a “number 3.”   This stone will serve as a solid base for construction traffic access and will be used during the construction phase of the project.  After the building is completed, the temporary road base number 3 stone will be salvaged and reused in the permanent road base for the facility.

Environmental benefits of salvaged materials

Each of these initiatives is focused on conserving natural resources and reusing materials from the Hampton Roads area. Reusing these salvaged materials eliminates the need for fabrication and reduces the carbon footprint of the Brock Environmental Center, while also targeting LBC and LEED Platinum certifications.

Construction will begin in mid-August, so continue to check back to the blog for updates and photos of the Center. Have questions? Leave us a comment below.

For more information about the Brock Environmental Center, please visit cbf.houriganconstruction.com.

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