By Lourdes Paredes
A personal tapas can cause deep transformation that forever changes our actions, mind and heart. For example, many of us have made personal changes to respond to ecological and environmental concerns: recycling, composting, living more simply, driving a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle, and choosing organic foods and products.
These personal changes, in turn, can lead to broader, societal transformation. In some industries, there are folks who are shaking things up dramatically. Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen calls them “disruptors.” In the article by Caroline Howard, “Disruption vs. Innovation: What’s the difference?” Christensen says, “[Disruption] is at once destructive and creative.”
In the field of construction, organizations such as DIRTT, a sustainable design firm, and Rebuilding Exchange, a building-material salvage and reuse company, are helping people rethink change on a macro scale. They are disruptors.
DIRTT, which is an acronym for Doing It Right This Time, is a Canadian company that provides sustainable options for designing and building interior spaces. “DIRTT’s mission is to reduce the amount of interior construction that goes into designing a building,” says founder Mogens Smed.
Instead of building permanent walls, DIRTT uses modular fixtures that can be repurposed for multiple uses. This prevents reconfiguring the interior drywall construction and infrastructure of a building as a business grows or has new purposes or needs for their space, as well as for each new business that inhabits that space. Some of the company’s modular designs are displayed at the DIRTT Green Learning Center, located in downtown Chicago.
Future-proofing a business and the interior space of a building minimizes waste and emissions involved with construction, and maximizes the design potential and possible uses throughout the lifetime of a building and business by giving thought in the planning stages for what a company may need for their future, Smed says.
DIRTT’s clients include Google, LinkedIn and Levi Strauss, as well as projects in health care and education. The company hopes to bring its products to residential spaces soon.
Rebuilding Exchange (RX) is another company in Chicago that is disrupting the construction business. They are creating positive environmental change by taking the materials from the deconstruction of buildings and repurposing and reusing those materials and architectural design elements in new and existing structures.
As stated on the RX website, their mission is “to create a market for reclaimed building materials. We do this by diverting materials from landfills and making the accessible for reuse through our retail warehouse, by promoting sustainable deconstruction practices, by providing education and job-training programs, and by creating innovative models for sustainable reuse.”
In addition to the impact on building materials, RX provides a job-training program for people with barriers to employment. Realizing that a trained workforce will enable a sustainable local economy, RX’s hands-on training programs in deconstruction, materials management, retail warehousing and carpentry empower Chicago residents with the skills and confidence to re-enter the working world.
By disrupting traditional thinking and methods and making changes now, companies can begin to impact the future of the economy, the environment and workforce.