A greener way to tear down Detroit's vacant homes - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

A greener way to tear down Detroit's vacant homes

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Workers outside a home being deconstructed  (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com) Workers outside a home being deconstructed (Credit: WJBK | myFOXDetroit.com)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

An old house comes down slowly but surely one piece at a time.  The opposite of construction, workers practice deconstruction, a more earth-friendly way to get rid of vacant homes.

"What we do is tear down houses and recycle and reuse all of the material," said Jasonn Parnell, a site supervisor with the non-profit group WARM.  "We can reuse or save all of the bricks, all of the wood, two-by-fours.  Any of the metal can be recycled."

This past year, WARM started Reclaim Detroit, a project meant to fight blight and create green jobs.  Now about 20 crew members are trained in the art of deconstruction, which saves tons of precious resources.

"There's no way to get this material commercially.  It's the old growth forest that covered Michigan.  It's something that we can't ever get back, and if we throw it away into the landfill it's gone forever," said Chris Rutherford with Reclaim Detroit.

$30,000 to $40,000 worth of materials are salvaged from a typical home.  The painstaking process takes six to ten days and requires quite a few workers.  It's better for the planet than a bulldozer demolition and the cost is the same.

All the raw materials come to a warehouse on the Focus: HOPE campus where they either sell the lumber or turn it into various products.

In the wood shop, we saw workers making butcher block cutting boards.  They also build countertops, recycled wood furniture, planters and more.  Contractors, developers and architects are among their customers.  You can also take home a piece of it and help Reclaim Detroit by purchasing products.  For more information, visit www.ReclaimDetroit.org.

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