ReBuild Promotes Green Building and Green Jobs
For the homeowner with a renovation project, discovering the ReBuild Warehouse in Springfield can be like uncovering a treasure trove! Gently-used kitchen cabinets, unopened rolls of insulation, salvaged toilet bowls, donated appliances, secondhand windows and reclaimed oak flooring are just a few of the used building materials in the inventory at the 7,800 sq. ft. warehouse. And everything is 25 to 50 percent of the price of new building supplies, a considerable financial savings!
Located in the Fullerton Road Industrial Park, ReBuild reopens to the public on June 1st, 2012. The non-profit has picked up an impressive clientele of homeowners and contractors attracted by both the low prices and the organization’s commitment to sustainability.
Rebuild is one of three partner ventures founded by Fairfax County entrepreneur, Paul Hughes. After many years as a green venture consultant to government, Hughes decided to found his own green enterprise with the dual goals of keeping used building supplies out of the landfill and training hard to place workers in green jobs. Nationally, according to the U.S. EPA, nearly 40 percent of the waste entering municipal landfills can be attributed to building materials, the equivalent of 136 million tons of refuse annually.
DeConstruction Services, LLC, a for-profit demolition and salvage firm and Sustainable Occupation Services (SOS), a for-profit green services provider are the two additional businesses in partnership with non-profit ReBuild. Hughes’ experience running DeConstruction Services inspired him to found the used building supply operation.
For several years, Hughes struggled to balance the needs of his sustainable salvage company with the strict criteria for donated materials and unpredictable pick-up schedules of existing area non-profits. Ultimately, Hughes decided he “could create a better opportunity to price, market and display used building materials” in Northern Virginia and founded ReBuild.
Currently, ninety-five percent of the materials from DeConstruction Services’ demolition and salvage operations end up in the non-profit’s warehouse along with donations from contractors, homeowners and out-of-business building and renovation supply companies. Material donations to ReBuild are tax-deductible, also allowing contracting companies and homeowners alike to benefit financially from their efforts to reuse and recycle.
Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of Hughes’ green venture, however, is his green jobs training program. Employees of both ReBuild and DeConstruction Services are being cross-trained in environmental jobs like asbestos abatement and invasive plant control. The proceeds from ReBuild are used to train and license 50-75 hard-to-place workers, such as parolees, recovering drug or alcohol addicts and temporary homeless, each year in “green collar” jobs including sustainable landscaping, green roof installation, home weatherization and solar and geothermal energy systems installation.
A percentage of the trainees end up on Hughes’ staff to work on ongoing environmental service contracts. The remainder leave with what Hughes refers to as a “transferable skill.” Hughes knows job training will not be sufficient to fully address the problems facing hard to place workers. “Workers like these need government to create long-term employment opportunities, but our training will provide them with a leg up to make them more competitive in the job market.”
Hughes' green jobs program has been up and running since 2010. Springfield’s ReBuild has become a community resource. In addition to receiving and selling used building materials, ReBuild offers workshops on topics like green building, home weatherization and local architectural history and co-sponsors local community events. The non-profit also provides attentive customer service to its shoppers along with specific renovation services such as wood floor installation and refinishing.
Hughes is very pleased with the community response to ReBuild. “We keep seeing our business at the warehouse grow each month and know we are offering a service that Northern Virginia homeowners and contractors need.”