Home City Development, Inc. (HCDI) is a non-profit affordable housing developer in the Springfield region. HCDI purchased the Elias Brookings School in 2018, which had been left vacant since the 2011 tornado that ravaged the city.
Before beginning renovations on the vacant 50,000 square foot school building, HCDI saw an opportunity to donate and recycle the goods that had been left inside. They called RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts (RecyclingWorks) for assistance getting connected with local reuse outlets and recyclers for various items.
Goods such as school supplies, desks, white boards, books, and art supplies were recovered from the building and put into the hands of local teachers and caretakers before the renovation began. HCDI worked with local reuse groups, including the Old Stone Mill in North Adams, to distribute many materials to local artists for reuse, rather than sending them to the trash. Additionally, HCDI hosted an open house in September, 2020 for local teachers and community members to take materials for use during the upcoming school year. To further demonstrate their commitment to supporting the community, HCDI hired ROCA Inc. Springfield, a nonprofit organization that hires high-risk young men and women across Massachusetts, to stage materials in the auditorium of the school for the open house and assist with the cleanout.
HCDI was able to recover tables, furniture, fixtures, and other antiques for donation to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and EcoBuilding Bargains. Items that could not be donated, such as unusable paper, cardboard, and scrap metal, were collected for recycling. More than 23 tons of recycling was removed from the building and an estimated 5 tons of material was diverted to reuse.
Key to HCDI’s success for this project was starting the planning process early, even before hiring a general contractor. HCDI’s project with Elias Brookings School serves as inspiration for other developers in Massachusetts, illustrating how these efforts help save on disposal costs, support the local community, and keep valuable materials out of the trash. For more information, check out HCDI’s blog post on the project at their website.
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