We have responded this way:
Our goal is to create jobs and prevent the indiscriminate demolition and disposal of wooden architectural components on buildings where public funds contribute to the overall project.
We recommend that the Mass DEP C&D Best Practices include a 90-day public review and comment period on all demolition contracts in order to create jobs through material reuse.
Money spent by the State Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) is sadly paying for trucking large quantities of original materials out-of-state for incineration or landfills. In contrast, cities all over the country are witnessing job opportunities created through the building materials reuse industry.
One example of opportunity lost is the Springfield Technical Community College campus where thousands of taxpayer dollars left the city in dumpsters without creating one lasting job.
To prevent further demolition of wooden components, please consider the following points:
- Preserving buildings through centuries has been one of the contributions of skilled labor to civilization. And the knowledge of preservation craft passed down over generations instilled the population with the resilience needed to rebuild after wars, depressions, floods and tornadoes. Women developed these skills as well as men.
- All that remains of the original forests of New England are old growth trees that were incorporated into buildings. Structural posts and beams, windows, doors, trim and columns were hand-crafted from wood that grew on this land as many as four hundred years ago. That is why the original Springfield Armory windows still have structural integrity after nearly two centuries of exposure to weather. Unlike PVC, wood can be repaired, maintained and repurposed for generations.
- Our government spends millions of dollars trucking and disposing of historic wood instead of seeding economic opportunity that is environmentally sustainable.
- The Springfield National Armory once employed a labor force of 14,000 workers. The city became known as “The City of Homes.” The black middle class came into prominence here because of more equal access to skilled jobs and managerial positions at the Armory. But since the 1968 conversion of the Armory from a military to civilian purpose, the interrelationship of the Armory to the people of Springfield has been severed. The State Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, which today controls all buildings of the former Armory, offers no connection to the once great, indigenous workforce. Neighborhoods surrounding the Armory are left to disintegrate by poverty and joblessness.
- New livelihoods can be created in preserving materials. Worker-owned businesses in lead and asbestos abatement can increase competition in this specialty where historic buildings are an endless resource of jobs. Skilled crafts in preservation and reuse of original materials can re-build the local workforce and teenagers can get real work experience. In this way inner city residents can regain a sense of place and being part of history through generations of economic and social connection to their environment. For example: every restored window puts food on a worker’s table for a week. But that same worker only gets paid half-an-hour to destroy an old window and another half-hour to install a new one from far away.
This practice of wasting our natural resources and our money through thoughtless demolition must stop. We call upon Mass DEP and DCAMM to include in Best Management Practices a 90-day public review on all demolition contracts in order to create jobs through material reuse. Use the Building Materials Reuse Association (bmra.org) for examples of city ordinances from all over the country that are being used to realize the value of repurposed and preserved materials.