(11/2011) Adapted from an article by Mat Wolf for Register-Guard, Nov. 12, 2011

The UU Church in Eugene, OR, was among nine organizations to receive “Trashbuster Awards” from the Lane County Resource Recovery Advisory Committee during the week leading up to the annual National America Recycles Day last fall. The awards are presented to those who seek to reduce waste of resources while contributing to the county’s economy and environmental ethic. The church won because of its efforts to repurpose and reuse old lumber in new renovation projects.

The church has been renovating the site of its future home, a former Scottish Rite building, for more than a year, and in doing so has employed an army of 280 volunteers who have sought ways to recycle a range of materials in the 18,000-square-foot building.

Member Edwin Zack said the church has reused or recycled nearly 85 percent of all the materials in the building. “If there’s a will to work, you can discover all kinds of wonderful ways to reuse materials that would have gone in the Dumpster,” Zack said, “(The goal) is to be ‘green’ while walking as lightly on this planet as possible.”

During the renovation, Members pulled 250 pounds of nails from lumber; truckloads of fir paneling, fire suppression piping and more than 40 doors were cleaned and prepped; several thousand acoustic tiles were reclaimed; stage equipment and fixtures were given to a community theater; electrical wiring was stripped and either sold or used for scrap, along with approximately 10 tons of ducting and other metals.

Because of volunteer labor on the project, the church was able to reduce its estimated renovation costs from $2.3 million to $1.7 million, Zack said. The projected completion date is April 15, 2012.