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More sustainable demolition options are needed.

A long-standing Richmond lawn bowling clubhouse dating to the 1960s was recently demolished to make way for a new building.

Rather than taking an excavator to the old clubhouse, the City of Richmond partnered with Burnaby-based Vema Deconstruction to dismantle the building piece by piece. Their goal was to donate and reuse as much material as possible.

Dismantling the building took about a week in March, with over 12,700 kilograms of wood from the 200-square-meter building being donated to Habitat for Humanity.

The original clubhouse was built like a log cabin out of cedar, and the pieces of wood were not attached with nails but rather slotted into each other, explained Erick Serpas Ventura, co-founder and CEO of Vema Deconstruction.

He added that older buildings often used mature trees, resulting in wood that was 60 percent heavier, denser and stronger than newer homes, which used softer materials such as spruce and fir from younger trees.

Ventura said the main goal of dismantling, or “sustainable demolition,” is to keep material out of landfills.

“This gives owners, buildings and cities the opportunity to reuse this material in prefab housing, tiny homes and the future of building with these materials,” Ventura said.

“We want to give the houses a second chance and continue their history with as much material as possible that we can reuse.”

Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that helps families build safe and affordable housing, will sell the donated materials to finance the construction of the home.

So how does the demolition of a building work?

First, an inventory of the building will be made of all items such as kitchen cabinets, appliances, flooring, windows, furniture and recyclable lumber, Ventura explained.

The list is then sent to an appraiser who determines the value of the donable material from the building.

The owner will then be given an information sheet on the tax gift for the purpose of the tax credit.

Ventura explained that this tax donation helps reduce the cost of their services. The average cost to demolish a 2,200 square meter building

He told the News from Richmond More sustainable approaches are needed, while emphasising the importance of preserving historic houses and reducing waste through recycling and reusing materials.

“We found that many people didn’t know there was an option other than demolition. When we learned that the City of Richmond was planning a demolition pilot project, we jumped on board,” Ventura said.

“It became a pilot project … to basically show what deconstruction is all about.”

Clubhouse has been waiting for a long time

The reconstruction of the lawn bowling clubhouse was publicly criticized in 2019 due to the high cost of $5.3 million.

Finally, the Richmond City Council approved the project by a vote of 5 to 4 in 2019 and preliminary designs were approved in 2020.

However, the city has put the project on hold, citing supply chain issues and construction costs in 2022, when it was supposed to be completed. The pandemic also pushed the completion date back to 2023.

While the project was on hold, city staff revised the construction schedule and made changes to reduce the size of the new building to keep the project within budget.

The new Bowling Green Community Activity Centre will be between 280 and 310 square metres in size, instead of the originally planned 460 square metres.

Construction of the new building began in March, city spokesman Clay Adams confirmed.

Completion is planned for next summer.

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