Recycled materials from productions contribute to construction of one-of-a-kind building

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It was a perfect match of supply and demand. Georgia Tech needed reclaimed materials to build its environmentally pioneering Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. Georgia moviemakers had an abundance of lightly used materials that could be repurposed.

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Shannon Goodman, Lifecycle’s executive director, (left) tells the story about how a film site breaks down to Georgia Box Office host Sheena Wiley. Photo credit: Georgia Box Office

The Kendeda Building, expected to become the most environmentally advanced education and research building ever constructed in the Southeast, will open this fall thanks in part to the contributions of Georgia’s film and television production industry.

This partnership has been going on since 2011 through the efforts of Atlanta’s Lifecycle Building Center, a nonprofit that collects reusable materials and in turn makes them available at low cost to small companies, nonprofits and homeowners.

When the filming of “Last Vegas” was complete the studio had enough leftover materials in the sets, especially lumber, to turn over more than 75 tons for resale and reuse. About the same time the producers of “Walking Dead” followed the same path of reuse.

“This was the start of a productive and valuable relationship with the film industry that has benefited more than 190 Atlanta organizations,” says Shannon Goodman, Lifecycle’s executive director.

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Georgia’s film and TV production industry has contributed more than 384 tons of materials. Photo credit: Georgia Box Office

The reuse partnership is a good deal for everyone. Tons of still-usable materials are kept out of the landfills and put into a low-cost market for reuse. Most of the leftovers can be sold from 50-80 percent off retail prices.

Since 2012, 25 productions in Georgia’s booming film and TV production industry have contributed more than 384 tons of materials, including lumber, bricks, plumbing, flooring, tiles, light fixtures, doors, hardware, and even cast-iron bathtubs.

And the industry contributes more than building materials. After the filming of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” the studio passed along food, diapers, baby formula and cribs to the United Way of Greater Atlanta. Another studio contributed three whole production sets that totaled more than 82 tons.

Overall, the Lifecycle Building Center has collected for repurposing more than five million pounds of materials in seven years.

At the Kendeda Building, for example, architects estimated a need for 25,000 two-by-fours that didn’t have to meet structural ratings. Eventually, most of those boards came from salvaged movie and TV sets.

The Lifecycle Building Center estimates that about 25 percent of its incoming materials come from film and TV productions. Through grants, Lifecycle has helped more than 190 Georgia nonprofits get materials through its Nonprofit Material MATCH program.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for charitable organizations throughout Georgia,” says Shannon. “The film and TV industry is a huge part of this program. Repurposing materials from productions is a continuing benefit from having the film and TV industry here.”

This story is presented in cooperation with the Georgia Studio & Infrastructure Alliance.

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