Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Project Green House


Reinventing the way cities dispose of vacant and blighted buildings!

The cost of abandoned homes is enormous and growing in post-industrial cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit. Detroit alone has over 70,000 abandoned homes which require demolition and the total number is growing faster than the city’s ability to demolish them. Traditional demolition is slow, inefficient, does not scale, and 100% of the waste is dumped in a land fill. This process does not incorporate significant remediation, turning these sites into informal dumps or micro brown fields. Without significant innovation, this problem will continue to diminish property values, inflate the cost structure of the cities, block future urban renewal efforts, and pose significant threats to the environment and human health. The objective of Project Green House is to re-invent this process with our host communities to become the lowest cost provider of green remediation services and prepare land for reuse. Using state of the art technology, it is possible to recycle abandoned houses on an industrialized basis. At production scale, an Advanced Material Recovery Facility (AMRF) is capable of recycling up to 95% of an abandoned home or commercial structure and will significantly reduce the cost of demolition. Our objective is to re-invent this process with our host communities and become the lowest cost provider of green remediation services and prepare lands for reuse. The proposed effort is a systematic application of knowledge toward the production of the systems and methods, including design, development and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet the existing need for resolution of this important issue. This project will create a significant proof of concept and become the model for all post-industrial cities in the Great Lakes Region. The envisioned AMRF can and will meet all Green Building Council recycling standards and specifications for post-consumer recycled materials. At the core of the AMRF is a patented Flo-Cait System developed in Holland, Michigan for ultra-high throughput of residential and light commercial demolition debris. The costs of the initial target configuration are expected to be approximately $4.0 million with a capacity of 1,000 tons per 8 hour day. The advanced design reduces the solid waste stream by up to 95% and creates significant economic value from the sale of recycled materials. AMRF can also recycle and recover materials from the commercial demolition waste stream including: retail strip centers, multi-family buildings and hotels. The operation of the AMRF will is expected to be likely be price competitive with more the traditional land fill industry on an all in basis. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011 shows that 84 metropolitan statistical areas had a 2000 to 2009 growth rate of less than the national growth rate of 8.9%. Of these areas, 16 actually had negative growth, Table 1, 2000-2009 Population Change. This translates to 19% of slow growing metropolitan areas losing population, and hence one of the primary drivers to maintaining the housing stock. Deterioration is real, and the Green Building effort needs an innovative solution to handling this portion of the housing stock cycle when the homes reach a point that reclamation is necessary.