On the future site of the facility, there remained a handful of sheds left over from the land’s past life as a tobacco farm. The material was too weathered to be of any commercial value and we were not able to use it to obtain credits toward LEED certification of the facility.
It seemed a shame to ship this material off to the landfill and so we began to look for a way that it could be used as a compliment to our effort towards LEED certification. Much energy had been spent towards protecting and restoring the habitat. This included creating several acres of switch grass, at the recommendations of the NC Audubon Society and NC Native Plant Society, prairie that would provide a nutrient rich food source and habitat for local wildlife. Migratory songbirds were among species that would be attracted to the switch grass and we had just enough material for a few birdhouses.
We did manage to salvage enough material but we still needed to get the birdhouses built. Boy Scouts of America Troop 940 was approached with the idea and they enthusiastically joined the effort to make these ideas a reality.
This is where we go beyond throwing up a few birdhouses and when the reuse of the wood from the outbuildings truly becomes significant.
The birdhouse project created a partnership between the local community, Gray Construction, Caterpillar, and the USGBC around the common goal of improving the environment. It provided a unique opportunity for the scouts to actively participate in and learn about the process of LEED certification. (Usually only owners, design professionals, and contractors are involved.) It allowed the community to contribute to the improvement of their local environment and provide them with a vested interest in ensuring the long-term success of the work. It taught valuable lessons about resourcefulness and making the most out of the materials at hand. These are all valuable lessons and experiences that can now be integrated into their lives, homes, and communities.
In the grand scheme of things, a few small birdhouses will not offer much in the way of shelter for the local songbirds. The birds will certainly find enough material in thirty acres of prairie to build their own nests.
But without this project the community would not have been afforded the means to understand that each of us, even if you are just a kid and even if only in a small way, can make a positive contribution to the world around us and can take that lesson back to the neighborhoods in which we live.