Scavaging green building materials and promoting LEED construction methods


If the three little pigs were building their houses today, the smart one would recycle the used twigs and straw from his brothers' huffed-and-puffed-apart abodes to reuse in a sustainable, reclaimed brick structure. It's the basic idea behind building "green" with salvaged materials -- and it's no fairy tale.

An emerging trend in commercial and residential building, the concept is aimed at reducing waste, minimizing carbon footprints, lowering construction costs, and creating new jobs in demolition and deconstruction. Entrepreneur Nathan Benjamin, founder and principle of Kansas City, MO-based Planet Reuse, says that using salvaged building materials is also one way to earn coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points for environmentally conscious construction -- an element of the rating system that is often overlooked.

"Only 6% to 8% of LEED projects in the world have achieved their reused materials credits," Benjamin said in an interview with WalletPop, "and it's a shame." Still, Benjamin is quick to point out, "sustainability is an approach, not a scorecard."

On the other hand, he is very familiar with the roadblocks that discourage reuse. He and operations manager, Tim Bensman, report 300% growth last year in a business built on helping others navigate the hang-ups inherent with reclaimed materials.