Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

The initial idea in rehabbing 1610 was to ‘unwrap the building’ by removing all the structural/decorative elements, replacing all the inefficient mechanicals, insulation and windows and re-wrapping the building with the salvaged structural/decorative elements.

  Unfortunately a lot of stuff simply could not be re-used- The building had layers upon layers of materials added over the years from all 3 faces of the building (walls, ceilings and floors). 

Old hard wood floors were covered first by sheets of linoleum, then square vinyl tiles, then carpeting.  The walls had plaster, wallpaper, then new sheets of drywall and wood paneling.  The ceiling had plaster ceilings covered by 8″ square ceiling tiles staple to the surface and then had a drop ceiling.  Even the front brick of the house had a faux brick covering:

Faux brick (including the 1610 address) over common brick


typical room treatment


What wasn’t saved was first offered to ‘the urban reclaim market’:

Now you see it

(moments later) now you don't


metal in the building

The metal in a pick-up truck and the guys who put it there


I looked into the possibility of recycling everything else- including 3’x5′ ceiling panels. Armstrong ceilings will take the stuff back and turn it back into new ceiling tiles- as long as its not wet or painted (much of mine was) and they only take it by the semi-truck load.  I found a place in the northern suburbs which acted as a consolidating point, but when I did the math -the carbon footprint of driving the few dozen panels I had up north outweighed the savings of recycling them.

The rest (again unfortunately) wound up in an RSI (Recycling Systems Incorporated) dumpster, where they continued to sort and salvage anything they could.

loaded dumpster


 The only good news about these extra materials added layer upon layer to the house- is that they did a reasonably good job of protecting the 100-year lumber, lath and floors- the subject of next week’s post.

One Response to Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

  1. […] mission for the retrofit of the 1890 original building in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood was to resuse as much of the existing structure as possible, with as much existing material as possible. Where […]

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