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reduce_reuse_recycleWe are more than half way through Recycle Week 2014 – June 16th – 22nd.

The re-use of heritage buildings seems inherently ‘on message’ with recycling:

The volume of materials required to develop the building is Reduced;

Ideally as much existing material is Reused;

The waste material is …..what happens? – is this Recycled?

From personal experience – existing panel doors in a scheme were to be removed but what happened to them had not been determined. The building was listed – and following a call to the local authority I discovered that there was no system in place to effectively salvage materials. Furthermore the council had no helpful contact information to pass on – such as a local reclamation yard. Setting aside possible concerns of ‘endorsement’ or ‘recommendation’ for particular salvage companies surely there is a loop here that would ideally be closed.

Architectural salvage has become big business. I would personally rather see historic salvage reused appropriately rather than witness their commoditisation. Is a managed on-line dating agency needed for the matching of period pieces with buildings? If one exists do share it with us.

Apart from the need to remove some in-situ items – possible more often in non-listed buildings – what of the management of waste in a heritage development?

WRAP (Waste Resource Action Programme) hosts some interesting refurbishment case studies on its web-site – click here for a summary via Pinpoint. Each case study provides examples of how particular materials have been retained to reduce waste – for example the retention of the lime/plaster ceilings to Somerset House; and the recognition a specialist tiling restorer was required to maximise the retention of original tiles at Gwent Record Offices (Grade II listed).

It seems that those involved in the refurbishment of buildings need to be more proactive to determine the destination of anticipated waste with a suitable strategy for the various types and reduce land-fill.