Construction students partner with Demo 2 Design for Earth Day

Antonio Salcido, Staff Writer

Construction Academy students, in cooperation with Demo 2 Design, held an Earth Day event where they completed the construction of a casita, or “small house,” made from reclaimed materials.

The 10’x12′ custom casita was made from approximately 85 percent reused wood, doors, and windows. The seven students participating applied skills learned in class to complete the casita’s roof Saturday, April 20, while promoting the Demo 2 Design ‘reuse before recycle’ campaign at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival.

“If the class can learn something that fits into what we are trying to teach them we will do it,” said construction instructor Dr. Patrick Foster.

Carol Ashley, owner of Demo 2 Design, advertised the construction event for people to come and watch the students complete the casita at the Demo 2 Design warehouse and showroom.

“The difference between ‘reuse’ and ‘recycling’ is that the ‘reuse’ energy form of the material is not changed, thus reducing the energy required,” said Ashley. “This is the key element that sets apart the ‘custom casita’ from other shed structures.”

The idea of teaming up with City College construction students was a way to “show people how they could turn reclaimed materials into a functional space, incorporating design features as well,” said Ashley.

Each casita is one-of-a-kind and built specific to the customer’s needs. They range in size, 10’x12’ being the largest that is permit exempt. They can serve various functions, including greenhouses, play structures, and art studios.

“I have been pushing projects like this at school, and when Carol came along and we could actually do one where people could see, it made a lot of sense,” Foster said.

The estimated price ranges from $6,000 to $12,000 depending on the size and materials, but Ashley is planning on reducing the price to make them more affordable.

During class, they practiced putting together the frame and doors of the casita then dismantled it and brought it to the work site. Another class also built a smaller casita earlier in the semester for a father who wanted a play structure for his daughter. Foster anticipates more of these jobs in the future.

“We are learning with hands on material,” first-semester construction student Phil Boteilho said. “ … the future of both education, as well as industry.”

Ashley established Demo 2 Design in 2001. Since then she has been collecting and storing useable construction debris and attempts to find a second use for them. She was the former environmental analyst and educator for San Diego County.

“Moving to Santa Barbara I realized there was a need for construction recycling,” said Ashley. “Seventy percent of construction debris was going into the landfill.”

“America’s a throwaway society,” said Boteilho. “The more that we can reuse and recycle the better.”