Virginia Tech and Green Valley Builders: A Natural Partnership

Monday, November 14th, 2011 / No Comments »

Excerpt from article in Natural Awakenings by Karen Adams:

When the Mt. Tabor project began in 2007, Green Valley Builders wanted to track and reduce wood waste from construction and fi nd ways to reuse or recycle any wood that was left over. The company contacted Phil Araman, a research project leader and scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech in the College of Natural Resources and the Environment, who had been studying wood recovery and recycling for years.

“As green builders, we’ve always tried to be conscientious in general about waste,” Boyle says. “But in this economy, the way prices are, it’s even more important.” And, he added, the homeowners like knowing that their houses were planned with conservation in mind from the first day the wood was cut. “The idea is that we’re using less, but you’re getting more.”

Araman explains that at each construction site, the waste is collected, separated, weighed and measured to track the volume per house. “The more interesting the house is, with unusual corners and features, the more waste there is because you have to cut the wood in more ways,” Araman says.

Waste from regular, untreated two-by-fours, also called “spruce pine fir,” is taken to the Montgomery County transfer station, where it is ground into mulch. The remaining wood waste—plywood, treated wood and engineered wood such as oriented strand board (OSB)—is processed into shelving, pallets, treads, risers and other wood materials for new home construction. The partners donate most of the reconstructed shelving to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. Green Valley Builders gets an environmental credit, and the Habitat store makes a profit from the sale to the public.

So far, 12 houses have been completed and their waste has been reused or recycled. There is waste from three more houses awaiting analysis. “We can honestly say that none of the material from these houses has gone to the landfill,” Araman says

Read the full story in the November issue of Natural Awakenings here.

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