Dubuque structure fire fuels sustainability - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque structure fire fuels sustainability

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The sub-contractor salvaged more than 15,000 from the remains of the house The sub-contractor salvaged more than 15,000 from the remains of the house
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The remains of a house fire are helping fuel sustainability in Dubuque.

In March of last year, fire consumed a three-story home on Valeria Street. The three people living there were safe.

Officials call the fire "suspicious" and are still investigating.

Now, this house is a source of building materials.

Todd Revelle has been chipping away at the house on Valeria Street since December.

"Pretty much down to its roots now," he said Monday outside the house.

He's the sub-contractor tasked with deconstructing the house, and he's done so completely by hand.

"If we would've came in here with an excavator and just crushed it, there wouldn't have been no bricks salvaged. There would've been nothing," he said. "This would've probably been in a landfill."

There are several winners in this situation.

Next door neighbors, whose houses are very close to the damaged structure, will no longer have to worry about a possible collapse of the brick walls.

Another winner is the environment. Revelle said he has salvaged every brick, beam and piece of metal possible.

"There's so much waste going into the landfills today, you know, that landfills are getting full," Revelle said. "If we can, you know, save one dumpster from going into the landfill, that's, you know, helping, you know, our environment out."

By the completion of the project, he said, he will have sent just five dumpsters of scrap to the landfill. In a deconstruction project with no recycling of materials, he estimated, a contractor would haul between 10 and 15 dump truck loads to the landfill.

Revelle is also benefiting from the sustainable deconstruction. He has salvaged more than 15,000 bricks from the house and will make more than $10,000 selling them, "to local companies that could use them," he said.

Gronen Restoration in Dubuque bought about a dozen palettes of bricks from the Valeria Street house. The company plans on using the bricks in the Historic Millwork District Restoration project.

Denny Droessler is the masonry supervisor on the project.

"'We're always glad to get them," he said of the bricks. "You never know where you're going to find them."

He said Gronen Restoration is only using old bricks for this project.

"We have to put in what was here in order to establish the historical part of the building. Otherwise, it wouldn't be historical anymore," he said.

Droessler said the bricks are a hot commodity, since restoration businesses in Cedar Rapids and Chicago, for example, are also on the lookout for the reclaimed materials.

"Keep it out of the landfill and we can use it here," Droessler said.

The bricks from the Valeria Street house will live on in Dubuque, in the apartment and retail space of the Historic Millwork District.

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