by Neha Murthy, PRSA Pittsburgh public service committee member
Construction Junction is the largest and coolest reuse nonprofit in the Pittsburgh region.
Every year as part of its public service initiative, PRSA Pittsburgh looks forward to giving back to its community. After carefully reviewing proposals from various nonprofits from the southwestern region, our chapter is happy to announce its pro bono partnership with Construction Junction for 2023.
Construction Junction is a local nonprofit that champions the concept of a “circular economy” by promoting conservation through reuse of building materials catering to enthusiasts, donors, and shoppers alike. Homeowners, builders, DIY-ers and reuse supporters can find Construction Junction’s storefront in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood.
Through this year’s public service partnership, PRSA Pittsburgh will work with Construction Junction to develop a communications plan to creatively replay 25 years of Construction Junction’s history and reintroduce it to Pittsburgh through its 25th anniversary next year. The communication efforts will focus on creating awareness across all stakeholders and the local community to help CJ attract donations and footfalls.
Construction Junction plans to celebrate this momentous milestone beginning in January 2024 and culminating with an event on November 12, 2024. PRSA Pittsburgh will also help create buzz around the much-loved annual fundraiser (also happening for the last time this year), Steel City Big Pour, slated for Saturday, October 7, 2023. Big Pour is a fun event, featuring some of the finest foods and craft beers from the Pittsburgh region, and live art by local artists.
“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.”– Pete Seeger, Folk Singer & Social Activist.
This quote perfectly describes the phenomenal work done by Construction Junction. The company was founded in 1999 by Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) to serve the Pittsburgh region as a facility for collecting second-hand materials destined for landfills and then making them available for sale to the public.
The nonprofit focuses its efforts on creating awareness of the importance of transitioning from a world focused on demolishing and disposing to a world where disassembling, adapting and repurposing are the norms.
Construction Junction collects material donations in three ways – 15% deconstruction projects, 40% material drop-offs and 45% pick-up services. These are then recycled, refurbished and displayed for sale at its 30,000+ square foot retail store. The outlet features a large collection of furnishings, appliances, home renovation and garden materials, tools, hardware, and other unique finds. If lucky, one could end up finding deconstructed vintage and antique items. And the best part is that these materials only cost a fraction of the cost of new ones.
The nonprofit is a proud member of Build Reuse, the premier national organization encouraging the recovery, reuse, and recycling of building materials in the United States. As an employer, Construction Junction believes that everyone must be allowed to become a productive member of society – so much so that a whopping 39% of its staff have had some kind of barrier to employment. Construction Junction is a three-time winner of the coveted Goodwill SWPA’s Power of Work award in 2011, 2014 and 2016 and has also won the Legacy award in 2022.
While recycling construction and demolition debris is growing, reuse in this waste stream is rare and hard to quantify. According to the 2019 City of Pittsburgh Demolition Permits, the quantity of debris is estimated at 81,000 tons, and the projected potential value of building components is over $3.5 million. Construction Junction has been instrumental in keeping building materials worth $27.6 million in active reuse since 1999 and repurposing more than $5.75 million building materials in the Pittsburgh region itself. The nonprofit believes that this is just the tip of the iceberg and is working hard to develop more partnerships to elevate the impact. The Impact Report by Construction Junction offers a comprehensive view of their ground-breaking work.
PRSA Pittsburgh, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, is one of the few PRSA chapters to offer pro-bono services. In fact, in 2023, PRSA Eastern Central District awarded PRSA Pittsburgh the PRominent Chapter Award for its work in this area. The PRSA Pittsburgh Public Service Project is an annual initiative with goals of supporting local nonprofits and providing hands-on experience to its members. In 2022, the organization partnered with South Hills Interfaith Movement. To learn more or to volunteer for the committee, contact Jocelyn Buhite at firstname.lastname@example.org.