ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVE AWARDS: 
2017 WINNER

This project has been selected as a winner in the Sustainable Business category:

promoting deconstruction and reuse

Project Summary

Better Futures Minnesota worked with multiple partners and government agencies to introduce deconstruction and reuse a method of choice for building removal and to utilize new analytics obtained on deconstruction jobs throughout 2015 and 2016 to better understand the impact and environmental benefits of deconstruction and reuse. 

In Minnesota, more than 80 percent of the 1.6 million tons of construction and demolition waste was landfilled in 2013, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA is increasingly concerned about construction and demolition waste, which now exceeds more than traditional household and commercial waste. Through deconstruction, Better Futures Minnesota can recycle and reuse at least 85 percent of materials. 

Deconstruction carefully removes all building materials for safe recycling and reuse—greatly reducing the amount of waste in the landfills and avoiding hazardous plumes of lead and asbestos that occur from typical demolition. In addition, deconstruction supports public health by reducing the additional greenhouse-gas emissions that come from adding to the landfill. Greenhouse gas emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases that are the result of landfilling. 

From a February 6, 2017, Star Tribune story: “While landfilling has been on the decline locally since a peak in 2006, the Twin Cities still sent more than twice as much trash to landfills in 2015 by weight than it did a quarter century ago, data show….That 774,000 tons weighs more than two Empire State Buildings. After being compacted, that’s still about a Metrodome-sized mass of leftover food, product packaging, and other garbage entering the ground every two years.”

In 2016, through deconstruction services, Better Futures Minnesota helped recycle or reuse more than 1,571 tons of building materials. For each deconstruction job, skilled crews worked to recycle and reuse 85 percent of all building materials. The end result: 750.5 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided, according to Ecotone Analytics Environmental Impact Analysis.

In addition, Better Futures Minnesota engages and employs men who have had a history of incarceration, homelessness, poverty, untreated mental and physical health issues, and other traumas to help them achieve self-sufficiency and a better future for themselves and their communities.

In 2016, Better Futures Minnesota employed 80 men in its lines of business, and provided premier deconstruction services across the metro area by men who are certified in deconstruction techniques; deconstruction tools and safety; and materials preparation for reuse. 

Better Futures Minnesota aims to fuel men’s desire to walk a positive path in life while having a positive impact on public health, the environment, and our community.

Project Website

http://www.betterfuturesminnesota.com

Project Partners

  • City of Minneapolis 
  • State of Minnesota, through LCCMR 
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency  
  • Ramsey County 
  • Hennepin County 
  • Northwest Indian Community Development Council 
  • ReUSE Minnesota 
  • Ecotone Partners 
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  • Better Futures Minnesota
  • University of Minnesota Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI)

How did the project partners work together?

The diversity of the partnerships is extremely innovative, bringing together stakeholders from the city, county, state, and more in a coordinated effort to grow deconstruction and reuse and increase public awareness of the sustainable alternative. 

Statewide collaboration was a direct result of Better Futures Minnesota’s goal of working to legitimize the practice of deconstruction, and encouraging public support for improving the health of our communities and our environment. 

This is the first project of its kind in Minnesota, thanks to the support and collaboration of multiple partners sharing a goal of better understanding the role of deconstruction and reuse in making a positive social, environmental, and community impact. Numerous entities worked together to support the study and promotion of deconstruction in Minnesota.

How is the project groundbreaking?

This was a groundbreaking, innovative project in that, thanks to the efforts of Better Futures Minnesota, all three levels of Minnesota’s government worked together to better understand the environmental impact of reuse and deconstruction, and to discuss efforts for reducing waste in Minnesota’s landfill and getting our state to net zero waste and emissions.

In addition, leaders and lawmakers had a better understanding of new ways to measure environmental impacts, not just by weight, but by reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases that are the result of landfilling building materials.

What are the project goals?

Better Futures Minnesota wanted to work in consort with multiple partners to gather data on the environmental impact of deconstruction and to explore the local market for reuse, which could be used to influence public policy and get Minnesota to net zero emissions.

Through this data discovery, Better Futures Minnesota aimed to establish new metrics for measuring the environmental impact of deconstruction and reuse, which could be introduced to the cities, counties, and the state to establish target goals and help Minnesota get to net zero emissions. It’s not only about the total pounds of waste diverted from the landfill—but the impact of those pounds in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions—that is central to improving the health of our communities and promoting a sustainable environment. 

In addition, Better Futures Minnesota worked to address the workplace shortage and the underrepresentation of people of color in the workforce by giving men, predominately African American, the skills and certification they need to work and be successful in a new, green economy.

What are the project outcomes?

In 2016, through deconstruction services, Better Futures Minnesota helped recycle or reuse more than 1,571 tons of building materials. For each deconstruction job, skilled crews worked to recycle and reuse 85 percent of all building materials. The end result: 750.5 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided, according to Ecotone Analytics Environmental Impact Analysis.  

In addition, Better Futures Minnesota lines of business employed 80 men, predominately African American, giving them the skills and certification they need to work and be successful in a new, green economy.

With this new data, metrics, and unique partnerships created via this project, Better Futures Minnesota continues to work to make deconstruction and reuse a viable alternative for building removal, and to promote reuse through its ReUse Warehouse.

 


Event Details

Thursday, May 25, 2017
5:00 - 5:45 p.m. Registration & reception
5:45 - 8:00 p.m. Dinner & program
8:00 - 9:00 p.m. Dessert & reception 

Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401
 

Google Map »

Parking Map »

Metro Transit »

RELATED INFORMATION

Awards Home »

2017 Award Winners »

About the Awards »

Award Categories »

Guidelines and Eligibility »

Evaluation Criteria and Judging »

Sponsor the Awards »

Past Finalists and Winners »

Presenting Sponsors

Environmental Lay Group

Great River Energy

Reception sponsor

25th Anniversary Sponsors

CATEGORY SPONSORS

Community Action

Critical Collaborator

Stoel Rives LLP

Emerging Leader

Aveda

Energy and Climate

The Weidt Group

Natural Resources

Sustainable Business

Supporting Sponsors


Minnesota Power



partner SPONSORs

In-kind sponsors

AFFILIATE SPONSORs

CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Consulate General of Canada

Rochester Public Utilities

Associate Sponsors

Bremer Bank
G & K Services
Nova Consulting
Smith Partners