Taking a Ship Out of the Bottle
When most people hear the word “demolition”, images of sledgehammers and front loaders are usually what come to mind. The abundance and popularity of home renovation television shows has made this phase of remodeling appear almost fun and fairly straightforward. However, in the case of a Living Building Challenge (LBC) where recycling and reusing existing materials is as important as the building materials selected, demolition quickly becomes thoughtful, meticulous deconstruction.
In the case of Lloyd’s Construction Services, a third generation Minnesota company, this challenge is exactly what they had been preparing for over their 35-year history. John Lloyd founded the business with his father when he was only 17 years old and with nothing but $500 in savings and a 1952 GMC truck. Lloyd has described the demolition side of his business as “taking a ship out of the bottle”. Much of their business has always focused on salvage, reuse and recycling, but never have these words been more applicable than during the careful deconstruction of the old West Dorm for the renovation into the new Margaret A. Cargill (MAC) Lodge at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center.
An ambitious 17 year old and his 52 GMC truck
Before approaching Lloyd’s Construction Services, Pete Smerud (executive director of Wolf Ridge ELC) had already been told by three contractors that the LBC requirements of his renovation plans couldn’t be met. In a Living Building Challenge when demolition and renovation of an existing structure is a part of the project, the burden placed on the demolition crew to find ways to re-use and recycle removed materials far exceeds the normal demands of the job. With contracts on the line and the knowledge that any error could disqualify the entire project from LBC certification, Lloyd’s was willing to take on the challenge that others wouldn’t.
Great care was taken to be sure everything that could be, was recycled or re-used
Amanda Barke (John’s daughter and 3rd generation employee) was honest about the fact that taking on a project with demanding timelines and scrutinized outcomes was not easy. She said there were several things that heavily influenced their decision and ultimately made the choice of working with Wolf Ridge a no brainer.
First, Bob Gardner, (owner of Gardner Builders and general contractor on the MAC Lodge) made a personal outreach to John at Lloyd’s. This was a very important project to Bob and he wanted to ensure he brought his best team to the table. Knowing the importance of a careful and tedious demolition process to achieve certification, Bob knew that if any team could do it, it was Lloyd’s.
Second, as in many stories heard around Wolf Ridge, there was an emotional connection to the Environmental Learning Center. Both Amanda and her sister Allie (also a third generation employee) had stayed at Wolf Ridge as children and had many fond memories. Additionally, Amanda now has her own family of 3 children (future 4th generation Lloyds employees and Wolf Ridge campers), which increased the emotional pull to take on this project.
Lastly, in Amanda’s own words, the “deciding factor was the passion Pete had for the project. When he met with Lloyd’s to discuss the project in his search for his demolition crew, the contagious enthusiasm and passion made it impossible to pass up.”
The project absolutely had its challenges. When your intentions are to find a home for every item removed from a structure, the smash-and-grab of a reality show is replaced by careful extraction of every nail from every board, every cabinet and window from the walls, and every door to every room. To stay on tight deadlines necessitates an increase in laborers, which increases the overhead expense for the demolition company dramatically.
Exterior and Interior demolition from the MAC Lodge at Wolf Ridge
Recycling is always at the forefront of any environmentally friendly project, however, a common occurrence with any Living Building Challenge is ensuring that all recycling issues are addressed. In instances where a building material had no end markets available, LBC leadership and government entities are made aware and asked to assist in advocating for a change. If a material was deemed recyclable, the transportation and recycling processes were evaluated to determine what the best course of action for the overall environment truly was.
Such was the case with this project when a local home could not be found for some materials. One suggestion was to transport those materials to the cities, however after discussions with the LBC Leadership, it was deemed more environmentally sound to landfill the materials locally in Northern Minnesota, avoiding the additional carbon footprint of a long transport.
Some impressive numbers which will absolutely help Wolf Ridge reach full LBC certification
Despite the above challenges and because of the efforts of Lloyd’s, 100 percent of the windows, doors and lumber were reused. Additionally, crews were able to source, separate, and recycle all metal and cardboard. All of the reused materials were donated to a local school in Finland, Minnesota, Habitat for Humanity, and to local residents thereby positively impacting the local Northern Minnesota community. Overall, Lloyd’s had a big hand in a project that the general contractor, Bob Gardner described as “a few hundred steps beyond LEED platinum.”
Boys and their toys: 2nd and 4th generation Lloyd’s Construction Services employees
With the project nearing completion and the Lloyd’s work on the MAC lodge now complete, the family is looking forward to a few things. First, because of their successful efforts with this project, they have been named one of three finalists for the Excellence in Demolition Award through the National Demolition Association. They will be heading to Texas in February for the association’s annual convention, and will hopefully bring home the grand prize. But what they are most looking forward to is returning to Wolf Ridge ELC with their children and grandchildren in a structure their family helped create. “It makes it all that much more of a special project and future experience for our families,” says Amanda Barke.
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