A Publication of WTVP

ICC’s new Deconstruction and Building Material Salvage and Reuse Certificate Program

In the wake of the tornadoes that hit central Illinois last November, there is no shortage of building materials in the region. At one time, all that wood, brick and metal would have been shipped straight to the landfill, but today, it can be reclaimed and reused. Illinois Central College wants to help in this effort, having created a new certificate program to educate participants on the proper methods of deconstruction and safely salvaging building material.

It all started several years ago when a grant proposal caught the attention of the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN). The network includes 17 community colleges throughout the state—including ICC—which offer courses in sustainability. Just over a year ago, faculty member Anne Nicklin came on board, using her past experience with the Building Materials Reuse Association to create a curriculum for the new program. “There’s a real demand in [this] region for finding more opportunities to manage our waste materials,” she explains.

The four-course program is comprised of both online courses and deconstruction labs, culminating with Decon 104, which provides hands-on experience in the field or laboratory. The university is also stepping up to provide post-certification employment opportunities. “When they complete the certificate,” Nicklin says, “they will be well prepared to go out and seek job placement. We are hoping we can build relationships during the course of the certificate and give them a soft landing.”

While the program is geared toward future workers in the construction, demolition, salvage and recycling industries, the faculty involved hope for a broader impact. “This program has an opportunity to promote sustainability within our communities,” says Diana Fuller, IGEN regional coordinator at the college. “Not just getting a job for students—but extending it into communities and cities that are noticing a real opportunity for businesses and city leaders to get involved in more of the planning aspect of their areas.”

Fuller and Nicklin hope local businesses will jump on board and offer opportunities to host students at their job sites—opportunities that would benefit both the students and the community at large. “The biggest impact we hope to achieve in central Illinois is to see businesses offer an expanded line of services,” says Nicklin. “Whether it’s a waste hauler, demolition company or interior renovator… That’s what we want to see: growth in business opportunity, growth in entrepreneurship, and ideally, more materials segregated from the landfill.”

“And hopefully,” adds Fuller, “that will transfer into additional health benefits and community benefits as well.”

The new program is made possible through the ICC Sustainability Center, which is currently used as a resource center for students and staff. The center is still in an early growth phase, and ICC hopes to expand it to include classrooms and new class offerings.

“This opportunity is appropriate for anyone who’s interested,” Nicklin stresses. “At the end of the day, this is a great fundamental class—learning more about building construction and materials. Whether it’s reclaiming materials following the storms last fall, or folks looking to take down buildings on their own property, this is a great opportunity to get a broad introduction and broad skills development in building assessment and building removal.” iBi

For more information, contact Diana Fuller at [email protected] or Anne Nicklin at [email protected].