Connecting blighted Great Lakes cities to boost economy

By ABIRGAIL HEATH
Capital News Service
LANSING — The Great Lakes connect many blighted cities in a network that could supply recycled building materials. That’s just one way that domicology could spur the region’s economic development, according to a recent report by the Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development and the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission. Domicology is a new term coined by experts looking to repurpose materials from old buildings to avoid large-scale waste and high landfill costs. Great Lakes cities suffering significant abandonment include Detroit, Milwaukee, Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo. They can provide salvage shipped across the Great Lakes to a reprocessing center, said George Berghorn, an MSU assistant professor of construction management.

Muskegon new ‘Deconstruction Hub’ of the Great Lakes? 

By LUCY SCHROEDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Muskegon once was called the “Lumber Queen of the World.”  It’s been called “the Port City” and the “Riviera of the Midwest.”
Now, city officials hope to add “Deconstruction Hub of the Great Lakes” to the city’s titles. In the mid-1880s — the peak of the lumbering era — Muskegon was a bustling hub for processing logs into timber shipped across the Great Lakes region.  Chicago was rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1871 with timber from Muskegon. Advocates of the city’s port would like to see some of that timber come back. That could happen if Muskegon becomes a hub for deconstructing some of those same cities it helped build. Deconstruction is taking apart abandoned buildings and salvaging usable parts—as opposed to simply demolishing them.

Recycle your home?

By LUCY SCHROEDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — You may recycle in your home, but did you know the building itself can be recycled? A group of researchers at Michigan State University studying the science of domicology — the term they use to describe the policies, practices and consequences of abandoned structures — are examining how wood from abandoned buildings can be reused. The average Michigan home holds about 6,000 board feet of lumber, enough to fill two school buses, according to George Berghorn, an assistant professor of construction management at MSU. And the state has 244,000 abandoned homes. The lumber in abandoned buildings includes a mix of aesthetic products such as doors, siding and windows that can be sold as salvage.

Reclaiming buildings can create jobs

By LUCY SCHROEDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Sometimes deconstruction can yield surprising finds—like human body parts. Workers with Reclaim Detroit, a nonprofit deconstruction organization, once saw a human arm among other trash in the basement of a blighted house. At first, they thought there was a body in the house, said Jeremy Haines, its executive director. On closer inspection, workers realized it was just a mannequin. Fake body parts aside, the house the organization was taking apart was one among many abandoned houses in Detroit.

Researchers seek new ways to salvage abandoned buildings

By DARIEN VELASQUEZ
Capital News Service
LANSING — Constructing, remodeling and demolishing buildings have significant environmental impacts: Natural resources are used to build them and large amounts of waste are sent to landfills when they come down. What do you call that? Researchers at Michigan State University use the word “domicology” to define the study of policies, practices and consequences of what happens to empty buildings. It’s a term that doesn’t officially exist – yet. But George Berghorn, a self-described domicologist and assistant professor of construction management at MSU, is working hard to make it one.

New study could help Lansing fight vacancy rates

The campus of Lansing Catholic High School is clean and well-kept. The sidewalks are clear, the windows are intact. Walk a few streets over, though, and you won’t find much like it. The area surrounding the high school is riddled with vacant homes and buildings, something that parents and students definitely notice. “You drive by school and you see houses with boarded up windows and tall grass,” says Steven Izzo, a sophomore at Lansing Catholic.