Finding a New Home for Materials

For all the strides we’ve made when it comes to understanding and helping clients identify more sustainable design strategies, the truth is the entire commercial design industry has a long way to go when it comes to meaningfully reducing waste and ensuring the materials we’re using are healthier for people and the planet.

While the biggest share of waste comes from the demolition/construction on projects (to the tune of 600 million tons going to landfills annually – more than twice the amount generated by municipal solid waste), there is room for improvement at all phases of the project process.

One of our favorite ways to reduce waste at Elsy Studios is by finding ways to repurpose materials on our projects.

Our goal is always to help our clients find the best design solutions possible for their goals, and increasingly, clients want to find ways to reduce and reuse – whether for budget or ideological reasons (or both). Here are a couple recent examples of how we’ve creatively sourced materials to prevent waste and help our clients get the most out of their design:

Finding a New Home for Materials
  • Patient Now got all of their furniture from our clients at YES Communities. This was a huge help to YES, since it meant they didn’t have to pay for furniture removal, which would just have ended up in a landfill, and the match meant a significant savings on furnishings for Patient Now.
Den Scholarships
  • Lights from a recent Shared Service Center project found a new home with the Denver Scholarship Foundation. The wrong lights were sent to the Shared Service Center and they couldn’t be returned, so we were able to repurpose them elsewhere – a win for the environment and a win for an incredible nonprofit with a tight budget for their office design.

  • Most often, when we’re replacing design materials on a project, we look for other clients (particularly nonprofits) who may have a use for them. In the case of Healthgrades, the materials were of a different sort. Before they moved into their new headquarters, Healthgrades identified a surplus of office supplies that it didn’t make financial sense to pack and move. With our team’s involvement in the local community, we were able to match the excess supplies with teachers at our local elementary school.
  • Most recently, in our design for Bonfils-Stanton Foundation’s new headquarters, we worked with Hyder Construction to identify opportunities to minimize costs for the nonprofit. The backsplash tile in the break room was sourced from another Hyder project that had excess, and their existing task chairs in each office and small conference room got new fabric and seat cushions. The result was a completely fresh look that helped them come in well within the established budget.

Seeing the success of these efforts got our team thinking of more ways we could creatively and meaningfully address waste in the construction and design process – in big ways and small ways, every day. We’ve formalized a team internally to come up with strategies that we can bring to our clients. Stay tuned for more on that in the near future!

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