Support Sustainable Reuse

$3,290 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 36 people in 40 months
6-17 update. Urbanminers salvages building materials and household goods in order to keep them out of landfills and give them renewed life. Since 2007, we have grown to become the forerunner and regional leader in a expanding economy of retail reuse centers and salvage service industries. Formed out of a commitment to environmental and social sustainability, we've diverted over $1.5 million of valuable materials from the waste stream over the course of seven years. Recognized by the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce as recipient of the 2012 Green Business Advocate Award and designated as Business New Haven’s Rising Star of 2010, Urban Miners also works with the public/private sector to educate and advocate for deconstruction and materials reuse. Hamden Economic Development Corporation supported a multi building deconstruction project with Urbanminers as a pilot for deconstruction and job training, the first of its kind in Connecticut.We have fully deconstructed 8 buildings and partially deconstructed over 100. We have created a retail operation that many see as a community necessity.
Recently, we have shifted away from a full scale retail store. We now sell selective materials from our gallery space in New Haven ,and plan on having a second outlet in Bridgeport soon. We now have our customers donate much of the salvaged material to local not for profit reuse stores. So we sell more materials directly off the job sites through our website ,facebook and instagram accounts. This allows us to handle less material but to actually save even more materials and goods from each deconstruction or salvage job. 

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                                Latest Newsletter  

Tobacco barn press release 

More Relevant Details for Those That Appreciate Novellas 

It has become apparent that the longterm goal of deconstructing buildings in Connecticut needs to include saving every building possible now and stockpiling those materials for the future, even if there is not an immediate use for them, because they are irreplaceable. And in the future good quality locally produced building materials are going to be necessary to maintain the existing housing stock, and repair structures after natural disasters. We are the first to use a demolition license for deconstruction, an alternative to demolition, in Connecticut. This means we can now actually get permits to do what we’ve wanted to to all along: deconstruct entire buildings in order to save all the materials.

This is a huge undertaking, conceived by a stubborn desire to fill an urgent environmental need. It now calls for more public involvement and your participation. We were launched with the generous support of a few individuals, but now require the support of the larger community. There is much salavaging of  materials that needs to take place now, whether or not the current market supports such recovery 100%, becuase we will no longer have the opportunity later, once the materials are destroyed and in a landfill.
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We are changing our model. So we will not have to ask for subsidies again. We are now teaming up with a demolition contractor that understands the value of saving buildings ( and has the skill and equipment). We will be bidding building removal as regular demolitions , and we will salvage as much as we can before the demolition. In some cases this may still be a full deconstruction. Note: We currently have over $ 40,000 in 4 demolition bids submitted and are waiting for confirmation.

But we have not been able to effectively engage in full deconstructions by subsidizing costs with owner tax incentives, work training grants and other sources with any long term effectiveness. Until we collectively institute changes, such as Portland Oregon's and Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Deconstruction Ordinances, full deconstructions for the most part are not going to be cost effective. We are going to have to continue to sacrifice large volumes of useful materials until then. This manager just has had trouble admitting it.

We've been experimenting with various models and we suppose our creditors , as we are, are tired of not seeing a profit in it. So we are asking for assistance to complete our current deconstruction project that is a good example of how we SHOULD recover buildings instead of throwing them away. It is a project of The Regional Water Authority. They see the value in saving their barn instead of throwing it away. But in order for Urbanminers to make the budget work , we have to sell the materials as we remove them.

We will sell the materials eventually, in fact we have already sold about $ 3,000 worth. But we need to sell ( or raise ) another $ 5,000 to make the numbers work. Yes this situation exists because this manager has made some overly speculative decisions and outright mistakes. The question I ask myself is, are these mistakes any bigger than the mistake of throwing away hundreds of historic barns and houses every year ? Are we just going to continue to "cherry pick" a few historic objects from houses while we throw away thousands of tons of usable , irreplaceable materials?

Urbanminers has prioritized saving as much material as possible from homes, especially historic ones. We have not see any movement to speak of on the municipal or state level to instigate the dramatic changes necessary in order to support the emerging local manufacturing businesses that utilize reclaimed materials, nor the job creation potential of deconstruction ( with a few exceptions such as the Hamden HEDC ,The Connecticut Trust, RWA and a few others).

Here is some info on Portland and Milwaukee:

Here is the barn we are saving. Check our website, and Facebook pages for more photos and listings of available materials.

For all you regular Urbanminers that have already contributed more than your share, please forward to someone else you think might be supportive.Whether they can contribute or not is not as important as it is for more folks to be aware or reminded of the problem of building demolition.

And thank you for your ongoing support.
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Help us Launch Our New Retail Outlets. Contribute
$ 50.00 or more now ( deadline July 28th) and Receive:
1) Urbanminers Tee Shirt ( mailed or pick up in store location)
2) $ 50.00 in store credit for either location ( Receipt via e-mail).
Total Value $ 70.00 !
Note: Store credit does not expire. We will honor store credit for direct purchases from job sites as well.

Our store hours are limited right now as we set up these spaces and wait for the official opening of Mongers Market in Bridgeport and renovations to be completed at Fairhaven Furniture.
Expanded hours will be posted in August.

Bridgeport location: Monger's Market ,1155 Railroad Avenue, Bridgeport. Summer hours 10-4 Sundays

Fairhaven Location Fairhaven Furniture, 72 Blatchley Avenue, Fairhaven . Summer hours 10-1 Saturdays

Or by Appointment.

Note that we also sell directly from our project sites so check our Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as our website shopping page, to see our inventory as it comes out from our deconstruction and salvage projects.

Check out our Services Section on our website: Deconstruction, clean outs, estates, moving and hauling, construction waste management and more.

Call us anytime for more information: 203-287-0852

( Photos from our Bridgeport Location)
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C. 1883 Gothic church building to salvage from.....requires committed buyers or folks willing to sponsor the recovery and get something back later. If we find interested buyers or funders for specific items we will put together recovery budgets, estimated return on sales and a site implementation plan. There are some amazing elements in this building, so feel free to contact us about participating. ! If you are inclined to sponsor the recovery of a specific item or set of items , let us know and we will work on a recovery budget on any item you choose ! See our Facebook post for more photos. Contact us if you would like to assist in other than monetary ways. If we garner some initial interest we will proceed with a more complete inventory and post all of it on our web page with sizes and prices...
Stained Glass Windows
Pews and other antique content
Doors, woodwork and stonework
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Now is a ridiculous time to fund raise for saving buildings from the landfill. After all, we have a mess from hurricanes , among other problems at hand. But to a certain extent, weird weather is a symptom of our unsustainable habits, of which one is throwing away parts of or entire buildings, or in some cases entire city blocks of buildings.

Urbanminers has been working on deconstructing buildings and saving the resultant materials for about ten years. Yet deconstruction and the reuse of the materials thus obtained is still not really supported by the free market. In order for us to be competitive with the crush and disposal method of removing a building ,we have to utilize working in conjunction with not for profit organizations, utilize tax incentives for owners, wholesale materials at discount prices, bid at little to no margin, rely in donated storage space, pay bills late, cajole property owners, and other subsidizing schemes. Yet we still cannot make most of potential deconstruction projects work economically and so the houses get destroyed, even those built before the revolutionary war.

We continue because we are attempting to make a point through action: We should not be throwing away thousands of buildings per year. And we cannot decide to change that habit " some time in the future". Once the house is demolished and put in a landfill, we cannot get it back. The huge volume of resources are lost. We need ordinances that compel the recovery of materials ( for example a recent ordinance passed in Portland Oregon ( but sadly it is the only city in the entire United States that has one)) , but until we have the political will to make major changes, we have to rely on other means to make up the difference between what the market supports and what we need to do to move towards sustainability now. Not when the resources run out because we have thrown out tens of thousands of tons of materials.

We have to spend money on crisis like floods and wind damage .But we also have to invest in activities that prevent crisis. We cannot throw away materials that represent thousands of trees worth of lumber, while harvesting trees to produce new lumber. It is not sustainable. It cost us in the long run . Because we refuse to pay for sustainable activity such as deconstruction at the job level because it is "too expensive" ,we are just deferring a much larger cost: running out of resources, adding carbon dioxide to the air and keeping people unemployed.

Unfortunately ,even though our bad habits have caught up with us, we still continue to throw away entire buildings every single day, while Urbanminers spends too much time having to theorize about deconstruction rather than engaging in it.

We are also aware that Urbanminers itself need s to be sustainable if we are going to carry on the mission. And to do that we need to change our structure and internal functioning. This is not easy to do because we have considerable momentum doing things the way we have - similar to us all collectively having a habit of removing buildings by crushing them and throwing them away. We continue to do it because it is easier than changing the paradigm. Even if it means working at a loss.

We have discussed morphing into a "B Corp" and other means of making a working management model with sufficient broad public support, rather than relying on and unfortunately over stressing in some cases ,a small circle of supporters, sometimes unwittingly. Urbanminers has been an experiment and it is time to shift the model.

We are hoping now for two things. One is that we have some economically viable deconstruction projects come our way ( soon !). The other is that we can add enough revenue to pay for a shift in direction. Perhaps the development of a b corporation or some other restructuring that will create a viable management structure with enough common support so that many more buildings can be saved than we can currently attempt with our limited resources.

Beside actually taking buildings apart and then selling or otherwise distributing the materials, there needs to be resources devoted to advocacy. In order to start saving more buildings and creating jobs, there really needs to be more effort towards finding that work, educating those involved and funding the required infrastructure. That in itself is a full time job.
We can envision an intern just working on advocacy and education about deconstruction, one on marketing materials, and one on restructuring.

We have internal infrastructure that, if changed, will support us advocating for the infrastructure needed statewide, that will then support the recovery of the 3,000 or so building we demolish in Connecticut each year. The means to that end requires, perhaps, a committee of individuals working outside the existing structure of Urbanminers.

Meanwhile we continue to struggle with bidding deconstruction jobs so that it is not only an affordable option for the property owner, but that also generates a margin that supports Urbanminers continuation.

The 30k goal here makes up just a small portion of subsidy we have relied on - friends time and money , extreme patience with family members, vendors, landlords and sub contractor payments , and deferred maintenance on vehicles, and overly long hours.

No, the way we have gone about establishing deconstruction has not been anywhere near flawless. it has been experimental and subsidized, but it has over the last 10 years saved thousands of tons of reusable materials from the landfill. And we hope , educated some of us just a little bit about the need to be sustainable. We would like to continue to do that only in a way that supports our financial supporters, employees and customers for the long term. We desire a broad spectrum of support from those that are able and not just from those that have already gone way beyond the call of duty supporting us. Including our customers.Deconstruction should really be publicly supported and than means everyone, not just Urbanminers supporters per se nor just the property owners removing a building.

We have recently recovered three barns and saved almost all of the material from them . We are beginning to work with local shops to directly produce finished products out of materials we recover. But we now have potential projects of houses in Greenwich, West Hartford, Baltic, Union, Whethersfield, Hamden and Branford. We do not want to see all of these house get landfilled.

For more information about helping us to restructure or about our upcoming deconstruction projects, please contact us.
Most recent barn recovered, Hamden, Ct.
two tobacco barns recently recovered
using recovered materials for furniture
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$3,290 of $30,000 goal

Raised by 36 people in 40 months
Created July 31, 2015
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Cynthia Rubin
18 months ago

Thanks for all that you do to keep usable materials out of our landfills.

20 months ago
Cindy Arndt
23 months ago

Joe - Thank you for the passion you have for saving these treasures from the landfill. Keep up the good work!

23 months ago
Jeff Roller
23 months ago

Love the Oregon ordinance! I'm forwarding to West Hartford Town Planner and others!

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