Image credits:Diagram developed by Anthea Fernandes.
CR0WD has reached out to communities in New Yo r k to assist in investigating alternatives
to demolition, such as adaptive reuse and deconstruction. The images above are from a
site visit to the Wall Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Auburn, New Yo r k in 2020.The
church was listed on the National Register for Historic Places. Members of CR0WD
worked quickly to identify solutions for deconstruction and salvage, because building
reuse wasn’t possible.While the church was demolished, CR0WD continues to investigate
the barriers to deconstruction and unrealized other opportunities at that site.
Faculty:Felix Heisel, Department of Architecture, Cornell University;Jennifer Minner, Department
of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University.
Research Assistants:Wyeth Augustine-Marceil, Andrew Boghossian, Melody Chen, Mariam Fatima,
Anthea Fernandes, Talia Greenburg, Shriya Rangarajan, Jason Rearick, Lei Sun, Gyasi Talib.
Community Partners: Diane Cohen, Finger Lakes Reuse; Susan Holland, Historic Ithaca;Christine
O’Malley, Historic Ithaca; Bryan McCracken, City of Ithaca; Andrew Roblee, Preservation
Association of Central New Yo r k ;Historic Ithaca, Gretchen Worth, Susan Christopherson Center for
BUILDING DECONSTRUCTION POLICY
CR0WD’s policy committee is developing draft deconstruction policies for the City of Ithaca
and that can be shared with other communities. These policy recommendations are
informed by afocus group with local government building and planning officials and
interviews with developers to understand barriers and opportunities for deconstruction and
reuse. CR0WD has also conducted site visits and collected information about
deconstruction policies in communities across North America.
The concept of circular economy seeks to disrupt the
enormous amount of waste generated by a linear
system. The system extracts raw materials from the
earth to construct the built environment, including its
buildings and infrastructure, only for those materials to
be dumped into landfills after a relatively short lifespan
(Fusco Girard &Nocca, 2019). In acircular system,
natural resources and embodied carbon are conserved
through prolonging the lifespan of existing building
stock through preservation, retrofitting, and repair
(Huuhka &Vestergaard, 2019; McCarthy & Glekas,
2019); deconstructing buildings and salvaging usable
fixtures and building materials; and transforming new
construction through designing with repurposed
building materials and for deconstruction (Heisel and
CIRCULARITY • REUSE • ZERO WASTE DEVELOPMENT
PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH TO ADVANCE
THE REGIONAL CIRCULAR ECONOMY
CR0WDsourced NYS DECONSTRUCTION GUIDE
NEXT STEPS FOR CR0WD
CIRCULAR CONSTRUCTION LAB: SALVAGE AND
DECONSTRUCTION SURVEY TOOL KIT
VISIONS OF A CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The Circularity Reuse, and Zero Waste Development (CR0WD) Taskforce developed out
of an alliance of community leaders and academics concerned with avast system of
building material waste within New Yo r k State.CR0WD seeks to advance sustainability,
resilience, and green jobs within the built environment. CR0WD's efforts are aimed at
helping communities realize the environmental, cultural and economic benefits of
prolonging the lifespan of buildings and reusing building materials and architectural
elements through research, education, policy initiatives and design that emphasizes
deconstruction, salvage, and preservation.
The group is sustained through shared leadership between organizations such as:
Historic Ithaca; the Susan Christopherson Center for Community Planning; the
Preservation Association of Central New Yo r k ; Finger Lakes ReUse; the City of Ithaca;as
well as other nonprofit and governmental partners; and the research labs the Circular
Construction Lab and Just Places Lab at Cornell University.
A CR0WD GATHERS MOMENTUM
Fusco Girard, L., & Nocca, F. (2019). Moving Towards the Circular Economy/City Model:Which To o l s for
Operationalizing This Model? Sustainability, 11(22), 6253.
Heisel, F., & Hebel D.E. (2021). Urban Mining und kreislaufgerechtes Bauen: Die Stadt als Rohstofflager.
Fraunhofer IRB Verlag.
Huuhka, S., & Vestergaard, I. (2019). Building conservation and the circular economy: A theoretical
consideration.Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development,10(1), 29–40.
Jawanrudi, D., McGranahan, J., & Heisel, F. (2021). A Comparative Analysis of Quantification and Validation
Methods for Prospecting the Anthropogenic Mine as Material Reserve for Circular Construction.In:CISBAT
2021 International Conference. Lausanne.
Kovacic, Z., Strand, R., & Völker, T. (2019). The Circular Economy in Europe:Critical Perspectives on Policies
and Imaginaries (1st ed.). Routledge.
McCarthy, T. M., & Glekas, E. E. (2019). Deconstructing heritage:Enabling adynamic materials practice. Journal
of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, 10(1), 16–28.
Minner, J. (2021). More than repairing cracks in the façade:Building systemic change in times of crisis.Book
Chapter for Avrami, Erica (Ed.) Toward Sustainability + Equity. In press.
AUTHORS, COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Left image: A demolition in
Ithaca, New York of the
Chacona Block. The building
was recommended for
historic landmark designation
by the Ithaca Landmarks
While some interior fixtures
were salvaged, much of the
embodied carbon and its
embodied history was lost.
Right image: Maximizing
materials for reuse sign in
Portland, Oregon, where
deconstruction of older
residential buildings is
JUST PLACES LAB: GENERATING IDEAS, MEDIA,
DEMOLITION STORIES, SPATIAL ANALYSIS
The Circular Construction Lab at Cornell University, directed by Felix Heisel, continuously
supports CR0WD’s efforts towards alocal circular economy in the built environment in
research and teaching. As one example, the lab is developing atool kit of non-destructive
manual and digital survey methods for buildings and structures before demolition or
deconstruction to estimate material content, document reuse and salvage potentials, and
generate the required data to successfully communicate
and implement a deconstruction ordinance (Jawanrudi et
al., 2021). The tool kit utilizes acombination of traditional
survey methods with newly developed algorithms for the
interpretation of LiDAR point clouds and automated
summary analysis.(Image credits:Heisel and Boghossian, 2021)
The Susan Christopherson Center for Community Planning took the lead in developing a
resource guide for deconstruction over the summer of 2021.This resource guide provides
vital information, spreading the word about deconstruction in New Yo r k State.The
deconstruction guide can be downloaded from this link.
Funding to support the Just Places Lab is from agrant from the Clarence S. Stein Institute and the Cornell
University Department of City and Regional Planning. The Circular Construction Lab’s research is generously
supported through the Engaged Cornell public purpose research grant CI:RCLE.
Image credits:Jennifer Minner.
Image Credits:Jennifer Minner
CR0WD’s efforts to elevate
deconstruction and reuse
policies at astate level have
been gaining momentum. An
expanding set of participants
engage with CR0WD,
including community leaders,
advocates, and elected officials. The Susan Christopherson Center for Community
Planning and Historic Ithaca are working to develop recommendations for racially
equitable green job opportunities in central New Yo r k with deconstruction and building
energy retrofits as the centerpiece. State and regional partnerships are being formed
with organizations including the New Yo r k Land Bank Association and NYC Department
of Design and Construction Town+Gown.CR0WD is also working to develop public
educational materials online and in displays and presentations within Ithaca and in other
communities.CR0WD plans to expand its work with local governments to support their
efforts to introduce incentives, gather relevant data and pass deconstruction ordinances.
There have been growing calls for whole countries, regions and communities to achieve
circularity, particularly within Europe and Asia (Kovacic et al., 2019). Within North America,
there have been efforts to re-envision local government and private sector systems of
demolition with deconstruction, particularly within Vancouver, BC, Canada;in the Bay Area
Deconstruction Working Group in California;Portland, Oregon; and New Yo r k , NY.
However, research into how concepts of circular economy fit within the highly variable and
uneven regulatory context of urban planning and historic preservation in North America
remain limited.Likewise, there has been limited planning scholarship into how
deconstruction efforts might fit into the creation of green jobs and sustainable
transformation of construction activity.
Image credits: Diagram developed by Anthea Fernandes, Just Place Lab.
Above: Example demolition sites researched by graduate students in Land Use Planning Methods. Images from Google Streetview. Heat maps of permitted
demolition activities by PhD Candidate Shriya Rangarajan, Just Places Lab.
CLICK TO WATCH AN ONLINE VIDEO
The Just Places Lab contributes to CR0WD’s research and engagement initiatives.
Research assistants have collected information about building reuse and deconstruction
policies and helped to create visual media for CR0WD (including the video to
accompany this poster).The study of demolition activity has also served as a
pedagogical tool.Graduate students in Dr. Jennifer Minner’s Land Use Planning Methods
class researched underlying factors in local demolition case studies. These ‘demolition
stories’ have fed research within the Just Places Lab to understand the spatial patterns.
Knowledge gained in the process is shared back with CR0WD and folded into crafting
policies.This participatory action research is aimed at demonstrating how historic
preservation, reuse, and community development organizations can work together to
proactively envision an entire system of care for the built environment that is equitable,
creative, and sustainable (see Minner, 2021).