Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Redirecting the waste stream



Building materials destined for landfill get put to better use in the homes of builder Dan Phillips. Old bottle caps, used wine corks, glass shards, old planks of wood and chunks of bone - things people might consider worthless become valuable building materials in the hands of Philips.

"I'm trying to keep stuff out of the landfill," Phillip says. "When a contractor finishes a project and has eight lengths of rebar left over, it belongs to the homeowner, but what's the homeowner going to do with it? So they take it to the landfill. That's the only venue for left overs and I'm trying to change that." Using free and recycled materials benefits the environment and enables him to reduce the building cost which allows Phillip to build houses for the three target groups he is most interested in helping: single mothers, low-income families and artists. He also employs a number of unskilled workers giving them the opportunity to learn the building trade.

Before Phillips began reclaiming construction waste to build houses in Huntsville USA, the small city of 30,000 was generating the equivalent of enough construction waste to build one small-scale house a week. The key to Phillips' program is finding a warehouse to store and organise donated materials, "getting materials donated is no problem," said Phillips.


Above: The Treehouse built by Dan Phillips of Huntsville is clad of Western red ceder used as shingles. Desk railing is bois d'ark, or bodark, wood, dismissed by tradtional builders, revered by Phillips for its strength and character.


Above: A Treehouse made from reclaimed materials. The ceiling is made of discarded samples of picture frame corners.


Above: This storybook house built by Phillips with recycled materials is reminiscent of the traditional houses of Normany.


Above: A single mother built this house under Phillips' guidance.



The Phoenix Commotion

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