Deconstruction Project Recycles Materials from Tax-Forfeited Property

Baihly Warfield
Updated: May 30, 2018 06:27 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - This time of year in Minnesota is referred to as construction season. But St. Louis County is also undertaking four deconstruction projects. 


Four tax-forfeited properties will be stripped down to their foundations, and many of the materials will be sold or recycled thanks to a network of partnerships with several Minnesota organizations. 

Better Futures Minnesota is managing the projects, Miigwech Aki is providing labor, and the Natural Resources Research Institute is adding in their expertise. They each believe the extra time involved with deconstructing a building instead of demolishing it is worth it. 

"In the case of a demolition, it would be one guy with a backhoe, probably about six hours," Alex Baldwin with Better Futures Minnesota said. "He'd come in, knock it over, and 100 percent of that would be sent off to the landfill."

Instead, 8-10 men had already been working four days on deconstructing a home on the 500 block of Rose Street. They will be able to recycle 75-85 percent of the materials. 

"The workers are learning new skills, learning to work within the framework of OSHA," Joe Day with the Northwest Indian Community Development Center said. 

Better Futures Minnesota works to create jobs and rebuild lives. 

"We believe there's an economic reason for deconstruction," President and CEO Thomas Adams said. "There's an environmental reason."

And UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute has a role too. Victor Krause said they are helping Better Futures find better methods for removing wood materials. 

"Another one of our tasks is to help them determine what type of species this wood is, which helps to place a value on that material," Krause said. 

Krause said they are also teaching the workers how they could use the materials to resell at a higher value. 

"We're taking our skills as woodworkers and wood products engineers and coming into their locations and teaching their employees how to reuse this material themselves to build things like benches and tabletops," Krause said. 

If people are interested in the raw materials, here are the details:
Friday, June 1 and Friday, June 8
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
538 Rose Street

For now, it's a pilot project. But the county is looking into whether or not it should be continued. 

"We will be having additional meetings and conversations with both organizations to determine how big of a success this was in the area and if we want to continue," Ryan Logan, a St. Louis County planner, said.


Baihly Warfield

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