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Michigan Boosts TRP Footprint in the Midwest

Published on: Dec 14, 2022

Several years ago TRP made an invited foray into Chicago, establishing The ReUse People of Illinois. Within a few years that office became a leader among our 12 regional locations, thanks largely to Illinois Regional Manager Ken Ortiz, who also currently serves as TRP board chairman.

TRP has now begun a second venture into the Midwest – this time to Michigan. The spark that led us there a couple of years ago came from Rex LaMore, Director of the Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) at Michigan State University. He asked TRP to become an advisor to the MSU Domicology Consultive Panel (see www.domicology.msu.edu). Domicology is defined as “the study of the economic, social, and environmental characteristics relating to the life cycle of the built environment.

Late last year, CCED Project Coordinator Nathaniel Hooper proposed that MSU, Muskegon-based American Classic Construction (www.AmericanClassic.us) and The ReUse People form Michigan Deconstruction Collaborative, an organization focused on providing deconstruction to building owners in that state. The collaborative trains both contractors and workers in the art and science of deconstruction and received a grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to conduct its first worker training.

With the direction and assistance of Tim Burgess of the Muskegon Land Bank, the collaborative has secured a house to be deconstructed by students during the first training, scheduled for April 2023, and will utilize additional houses owned by the land bank for future trainings. Participants will include two supervisors from American Classic, a TRP Certified Deconstruction Contractor, and up to ten unemployed workers who will be offered full-time positions with American Classic upon successful completion of the course. After a second successful training, the two supervisors will be certified by TRP to conduct their own trainings in Michigan.

During the training Nat Hooper and MSU Domicology students will detail sustainability points by calculating the carbon units and embodied energy saved by salvaging materials. The team will also conduct a comprehensive assessment aimed at understanding current market conditions for demolition and renovation/remodeling in the region, allowing for an estimation of the potential volume and value of recoverable materials available within American Classic’s service area. This information will help to scale the collaborative’s activities going forward and will also serve as a focal point to help educate the public regarding the wide array of environmental, economic, and social benefits that deconstruction offers.

Between now and the training, Nat and his team, in conjunction with American Classic, will promote and investigate deconstruction opportunities throughout Michigan and will offer deconstruction to residential and commercial building owners as an alternative to traditional smash-and-dash demolition. All salvaged materials will be donated to TRP, and building owners will receive documentation of their generous tax-deductible donations.

To ensure a sound, sustainable and circular building-materials market, all salvaged materials will remain local and be available for purchase through the retail warehouse arm of the collaborative, which will offer high quality reusable materials for cents on the dollar.