After spending a decade working on projects to design and build LEED-certified projects, Nathan Benjamin saw a major flaw in the supply chain. He noticed that, while builders sought to create “green” environments, they were sending tons of disposed materials to the landfill and replacing them with new items.
“Sourcing used materials for LEED projects was difficult, and therefore was not accessible to most design professionals,” explains the LEED-accredited architectural engineer. “We also knew that job site superintendents were looking for an alternative to the Dumpster for their demolition and construction waste.”
Those two simple but profound observations led Benjamin to create PlanetReuse, a sort of Match.com for people who are looking for materials for building projects. Connecting used or discarded materials with contractors, builders and architects has created a new life for the materials while keeping tons of building products out of landfills. Many of the materials found on the PlanetReuse site come directly from reuse salvagers and deconstruction companies, Benjamin says — and are companies most people have never heard of.
“They are out there salvaging materials every day,” he says. “Our job is to match up their great stuff with the folks that are looking for things you can’t find in a box store.”
That may include everything from bowling alley lanes and church steeples to reclaimed materials from a 120-year-old farm house. The constantly changing inventory includes materials from commercial and residential projects, and is used in more ways than Benjamin originally envisioned.
“We are blown away by the creativity and ingenuity that people display when using reused and reclaimed materials,” he says. “We see, on a daily basis, the ability of homeowners and commercial builders alike to take materials that were headed for the landfill and turn them into something truly incredible.”
Next page: Challenges for PlanetReuse