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Campaign for the Next Generation Reuse Center

 Ydamis Nunez, a homeowner from Dorchester, renovated her own kitchen and also referred two family members. "When kids grow up with happy parents in an environment that looks nice, you don't have to have that much money," she says.

Ydamis Nunez, a homeowner from Dorchester, renovated her own kitchen and also referred two family members. "When kids grow up with happy parents in an environment that looks nice, you don't have to have that much money," she says.

Since we set up shop in two shipping containers in 1993, the Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources has come a long way. We now provide affordable building materials to 2,100 low- and moderate-income customers each year—materials that would otherwise be headed for the landfill. Instead of being needlessly wasted, reusable cabinet sets, doors, windows, appliances, and other materials donated to the Reuse Center receive a productive “second life” improving local homes.

Our mission has grown to the point where it is limited by the size and configuration of our building. With significant renovations to allow more efficient use of space, we can continue to grow while remaining in our accessible and convenient location.

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Frequently Asked Questions

 What will the renovations accomplish?

  • Enable us to serve 20% more families with the affordable materials they need to repair, maintain, and improve their homes.
  • Channel 20% more building materials to be reused rather than discarded.
  • Eliminate our carbon footprint and generate a surplus of renewable energy through insulation and solar panels

What is “reuse” vs. “recycling”?

  • Recycling means breaking the materials down into their raw material state so they can be made into different materials—plastics melted down, paper ground up, etc.
  • Reuse means the materials are used again “as is.” Reuse has a greater environmental benefit than recycling.

Why now?

  • Because of escalating housing costs, the dream of homeownership in Boston is slipping out of reach of our lower- and middle-income residents. Those who have managed to purchase a home must pay increasing taxes, insurance, and utility costs, leaving very little financial resources for necessary repairs and maintenance.
  • Those at greatest risk of being priced out of their communities are residents of color. African Americans and Latinos have much lower homeownership rates than whites.
  • More building and remodeling contractors are aware of the possibility of donating unneeded building materials, and are being motivated to do so by regulations, costs, and customer demand. The supply of reusable material is expected to remain abundant.

 How do used building materials help solve the problem of affordable housing?

  • Several local organizations offer first-time homebuyer classes, but there are few resources to support these homebuyers in becoming successful long-term homeowners once they have completed the purchase.
  • All buildings need periodic maintenance and repairs to prevent deterioration and keep them in good condition. If a lower-income owner can’t afford repairs, small problems can grow to become health and safety risks.
  • Used materials cost about 20% of what new materials would cost from a typical big-box store, often for better quality. On a limited budget, a homeowner can complete more projects with used materials. Additionally, BBR offers substantial price discounts to income-qualified customers—usually one-third off the public price.
  • In addition to materials, Boston Building Resources offers workshops where homeowners can learn do-it-yourself skills to do their own projects and establish a knowledge base that allows them to work successfully with contractors.

What is the environmental benefit of reusing building materials?

  • In 2014, 534 million tons of construction and demolition debris was generated in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While some of this material can be recycled (returned to raw-material state), items made up of a variety of component parts (wood, metal, polymers) can be difficult to break down and are often discarded.
  • Whenever something is manufactured, energy is used to create, package, and transport the material to its ultimate destination; this is known as “embodied energy.” Giving a longer lifespan to that material conserves the embodied energy rather than having more energy expended to manufacture replacement materials.