Sustainable deconstruction helps build sustainable jobs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sustainable deconstruction helps build sustainable jobs

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- For months now the City of Dubuque has been working on clearing land for the Bee Branch Project. The project will eventually make way for a rain water run off area. But first crews must clear more than 60 properties.  One group is deconstructing a home, while helping the environment and their future.

It's all thanks $2 million dollar grant from the Department of Labor Energy Training Partnership.  About 20 guys are learning how to deconstruct the house in the Bee Branch. Of course they're doing it in a sustainable way which means they're saving 60-70 percent of all materials

"It's nasty, sticky, dirty work," Gronen Restoration Team lead, Kyle FitzGerald said.

"I learned how to take a house down by hand," Roland Carroll said.

The scene at 1552 Maple Street on Wednesday morning was messy.

"This is a beautiful thing," FitzGerald said.

It was day three of deconstruction and day three of on the job training.

"There's been a need to teach people and educate people about this," FitzGerald said.

Fast forward to day five and the entire second floor of a vacant home is gone.

Kyle FitzGerald works for Gronen Restoration. He is helping train men like Roland Carroll.

"I've been out of work for a little of a year now and it's great to be working," Carroll said.

Carroll is a former drug addict, rebuilding his life. He's looking for work and Gronen Restoration is looking to train people to sustainability deconstruct homes. Hoping to teach them what to save and how it might be reused.

"We got through everything from pulling the first nail to stapling the red flag on the last piece of material that's being shipped outta here," FitzGerald said.

But safety is just as important on site. Working in rough conditions, with full gear, everyday.

"I mean you'll some of these guys are just black out here from head to toe with dirt and debris from insulation. And it's a hot nasty day," FitzGerald said.

But the transformation from a vacant home, to a gutted out home, to a pile of recycled wood and materials is what makes it all worth it.

"A lot of this stuff is going to be reused and that's great but it creates jobs for one," Carroll said.

"This is not in the book, we can't teach this stuff from the book. This is the stuff you have to come across when you work -- and team work," FitzGerald said.

They're building a future for themselves and the environment.

"It's tough work but at the end of they day they're smiling so that's the big success," FitzGerald said.

Crews will be trained in situations on the job, in hopes to get a job. The program is hosted by the Northeast Iowa Community College. All participants receive a stipend once the project is complete. The house should be finished next week. Then the crew will move next door to deconstruct two more homes.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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