Students Build by Taking Apart

Center teaches how to build homes with deconstruction project

By Tim Keith

The National Center for Craftsmanship is giving Fort Collins area high school students a chance to learn how to build houses by taking them apart.

The center began its first “deconstruct” project over the weekend on Lady Moon Drive south of Harmony Road.

Deconstructing a house is different than demolishing it because the materials are gathered for reuse in building proj- ects rather than being shipped off to the landfill.

The project is educa- tional and environmental- ly friendly, said Robb Sommerfeld,assistant cen- ter director.About 80 per- cent of the materials from the house can be reused.

“Not only can we teach craftsmanship and the trades, not only can we impact the environment, we can affect the commu- nity,” he said.

The project is part of the center’s mission to pro- mote andpreservecrafts- manship and is designed to give hands-on, real- world learning opportuni- ties to area high school, junior college, college and adult students interested in the building trades.

A general goal of the National Center for Craftsmanship and a spe- cific goal of the decon- struct project are to edu- cate the area’s youth, especially those in high school who are not bound for college, about the numerous career opportunities in the skilled construction and associated trades.

Many of the volunteers are high school students getting their first con- struction experience.

“If you’re going to buy a house, you ought to know how it’s put together,” said David Beers, a Ridgeview Classical School sophomore.

The opportunity to learn about how a house is put together without

having to worry about making a mistake helps the learning process, said Sommerfeld, a Berthoud High School teacher.

Learning about con- struction also opens up a large career field, said Kyle McLear, a Colorado State University graduate student.

“There’s so much more in this industry,” he said. “There’s a lot of outstand- ing jobs.”McLear is writing his graduate thesis on sus- tainable pre-development of property, including the reuse of materials from deconstructed buildings.

The center will meas- ure materials taken out of the house in order to apply LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points.

There is no standard for

deconstruction, so the project will try to develop one, said McLear, who is LEED accredited.

After the house is taken down the materials will be sold and proceeds will support continuing the project.The center already has two more houses it plans to deconstruct.

The project was initial- ly made possible by dona- tions from local organiza- tions, including the Larimer County landfill, Sommerfeld said. The landfill donated $4,000 for the materials that won’t be deposited at the landfill.

And although the project has several high-mind- ed goals, it isn’t all work.

“It’s just fun to take stuff apart,” said J.J. Johnson, a Berthoud High sophomore.

Download the article (PDF, 1.3 MB) published in The Coloradoan.

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