Beat of the Week: Housing, housing, and more housing…
Syracuse has over 1,500 vacant houses just waiting for demolition.
For the past week, I’ve been discovering exactly what is going to happen to each of them.
Over the past week and a half, I’ve managed to maneuver my way through different sectors of Syracuse’ housing industry as I worked on covering (for the Post-Standard) Habitat for Humanity’s Shack-A-Thon, profiling a family moving into new low-income housing units by St. Joseph’s Hospital, and then writing a feature on “green demolition” for the on-campus magazine, JERK.
The city of Syracuse has determined that the houses need to be demolished to make way for newer, modernized buildings, but what will happen to the thousands of tons of materials scrapped from those houses? They will go straight into the dumpster and then flood the landfills. Sound wasteful? Yes. However, an emerging industry dedicated to “green” demolition is taking hold in Syracuse and attempting to set a national model for turning what could be tons of waste into tons of valuable reusable construction materials.
Start-up industrial design companies like D-Build and Patchworks are looking to team up with local contractors and organizations like Habitat for Humanity to build everything from houses to furniture using only recycled materials. The future of home design and construction is stored in the old, falling-down houses built decades ago, say the designers at D-Build, a company building an online network to connect the disjointed green construction industry. “The biggest problem about making recycled materials an economically viable option is we don’t all know about each other within the industry,” said Rob Englert, founder of RAM Industrial Designs and D-Build.
James Cameron Lassiter, co-founder of Patchworks, said that using recycled materials in housing construction could become a new “trend.” ”Now people are more apt to reuse and give things a second life,” Lassiter said.
Recycled materials could develop a vintage, artsy, and trendy image he said. ”We’re trying to do this to make Syracuse a vibrant community, not that it isn’t already, but there are definitely some places that could use a little patchwork. I mean, I hope that doesn’t sound too corny,” he said.