Giving Building and Design Materials a Second Life
April 22, 2019

Renovation and design projects can create a lot of waste. Disposing of all those samples, extra materials or old materials can become an issue. While some samples and extra or old materials must be disposed of with care, many items are recyclable.

Besides keeping material out of landfills, benefits of recycling and donating products include:

  • Possible benefits in programs like LEED v4 projects and ENERGY STAR scoring

  • Money savings through decreased disposal costs

  • Energy savings for the Earth (e.g. reduce greenhouse gases, prevent pollution, etc.)

Students Connect With Industry Experts for Recyclable Items

If you don’t want to reuse products but hate to see them go into the landfill, there are many local, state and national programs and opportunities to recycle or reuse products.


Architectural Salvage: Benefits of Reusing Old Buildings

Empty, decaying buildings are an eyesore—but demolishing them means valuable, reusable materials take up space in a local landfill. Here’s another way >>

Armstrong Flooring is supporting two initiatives to ensure that product samples live on beyond the specification process, through recycling efforts that also inspire future designers and artists. Armstrong Flooring and the IIDA Mid-America Chapter recently initiated a pilot program to enable architecture and design firms to donate excess product samples to design students.

“By saving samples from the landfill, we are not only practicing resource conservation, we are providing materials to inspire people to design, create and value art,” says Amy Costello, sustainability manager for Armstrong Flooring, in a news release.

(Photo: Students select from donated samples at the Armstrong Flooring/IIDA Mid-America kick-off event in Kansas City, Mo.​ Credit: Armstrong Flooring)

The pilot program connects participating architectural and design firms—including HOK, Gould Evans and Hollis + Miller—with local design students at educational events. When a student attends an event, he or she can take the samples back to school for use in design projects.

Design Materials: Textiles, Finish Cards and Brochures

Save a Sample!: This program creates a second life for unused brochures, fabrics and finish cards, with materials delivered to local design schools. Over the years, thousands of pounds of materials have been donated by some of the busiest design firms in the U.S.

[Another sustainable initiative: Your Guide To Reusable Straws]

Material Bank: Material Bank allows you to request samples online and have them shipped to you. The organization accepts returns of samples, including those you have received elsewhere, to encourage reuse.

FABSCRAP: This organization was created as a way for businesses in New York to recycle fabric scraps. Any business that creates textile waste can request a recycling bag and schedule a pickup.

Recyclable items are used as part of other products or reused by students, teachers, designers or crafters.


Building Materials and Furnishings

Habitat for Humanity

The organization’s Habitat ReStore locations are home improvement stores that accept new or gently used items. Items are then sold in the store, and money raised by Habitat ReStore locations helps families build a home. They also have corporate partnership opportunities.

Building Materials Reuse Association

The organization works to advance the recovery, reuse and recycling of building materials through education. Along with the American Wood Council and Canadian Wood Council, the Building Materials Reuse Association manages Reuse Wood, a directory to find wood and wood products to be reused.

Giving materials and other people a second opportunity to the products helps extend resources of the Earth and in your pocketbook and program scores.

Two handpicked articles to read next:

Profile picture for user Valerie Dennis Craven
About the author
Valerie Dennis Craven | Director of Editorial Services, Editor-in-Chief of interiors+sources

Valerie is an experienced journalist with an emphasis in the B2B market. As the director of editorial services and editor-in-chief of interiors+sources, she leads the editorial staff in producing the monthly print magazine, coordinates topics for the newsletter and online, and contributes relevant content.