Eliminating waste with DIRTT’s flexible construction » DIRTT Environmental Solutions

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How one project allowed our client to divert 22,565 lbs of debris from the landfill

How much more sustainable is DIRTT’s construction approach over conventional? If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’ve come to the right place! We’re diving into one of our Oregon projects to demonstrate what DIRTT’s building method means for our clients’ sustainability goals. 


Buildings are built to last… but their interiors are built to fail

Exteriors often stay relevant for decades, but our interiors are in constant need of change. Shifting needs. Economic forces. New tenant requirements. Outdated designs or the latest trends facing the industry. These are just some of the reasons why organizations need or want their interior to evolve over time. And so, the cycle of building interiors with drywall, using them for a while, demoing them to respond to change, and then building them again, starts. It’s become so normal that we fail to recognize how damaging this mentality is to the environment around us.

Buildings last, interiors fail Buildings last, interiors fail
40% of US landfills = construction waste 40% of US landfills = construction waste

The industry is in desperate need of a reset. What if we could break this damaging cycle? What if we could set interiors up to succeed and not be seen as disposable? Can spaces be as dynamic as the organization’s inside of them? These were questions that led to the inception of DIRTT. We recognized the need to shake up the entire approach and introduce interiors that could support organizations through change. And in doing so, create a cycle that is less harmful to our planet.    

Case study: APEL

Let us tell you a story about one of our clients.

It’s 2014. APEL Extrusions, an aluminum manufacturer, is building out an office space for their 80 employees with the help of their local DIRTT Partner, Eteriors. They set out to build 5100 square feet of DIRTT for the corporate side of their business on the first floor of a building. The area would be complete with meeting rooms, offices and employee break-out areas. The other half of the first floor would be dedicated to the manufacturing side of their business. DIRTT construction made the build-out fast, clean and reliable.

Original install on first floor Original install on first floor
2014 Apel 2014 Apel
Apel 2014 Apel 2014
Apel 2014 Apel 2014

Four years later...

By summer 2018, APEL had changed. Their production needed to increase to meet the demands of their business. Their employee count had also grown. And, they needed their space to respond. The solution was to move their office from the first floor to the second so that the original floor could be fully dedicated to manufacturing.  

Using DIRTT’s proprietary ICE software, it was determined that APEL could reuse 98% of their current DIRTT solutions in a reconfiguration for the second floor. 

DIRTT technology also calculated which additional solutions were needed to ensure the interior would match their new needs. ICE visually demonstrated how the reuse of these solutions would look in their soon-to-be-home.

Using ICE to determine solution reuse Using ICE to determine solution reuse
Render to plan the relocation Render to plan the relocation
Render of 2018 move Render of 2018 move

Rapid timeline

Once the new layout was calculated and planned, it was time for the heavy lifting. The DIRTT interior on their first floor was disassembled in just three short days. Lack of noise and debris meant APEL's employees could stay working in the same space during construction.

Once the DIRTT solutions on the first floor were uninstalled, it took only one week for the DIRTT solutions (new and old) to be re-installed on the second floor. They were then able to expand their manufacturing to the entire main floor to keep pace with production demands.

DIRTT solutions uninstalled DIRTT solutions uninstalled
Same solutions, new space Same solutions, new space
Install on second floor Install on second floor
Apel 2018 Apel 2018

DIRTT vs. conventional

The sustainability outcome that DIRTT, in partnership with Eteriors, provided Apel could never be offered by conventional construction. That’s because our solution left Apel with a responsive space. You can’t reconfigure drywall. You can’t recycle it once it’s torn out either.

Let’s take a step back to see how this situation would have been handled conventionally. Apel would have needed to demolish their office environment on the first floor, put it all in the landfill, and start the second floor from scratch. This would have had a very negative impact on the environment. The project’s schedule would have been significantly longer. It would have cost a great deal more. Apel’s initial investment would have gone to waste. And so much more embedded carbon would have gone into the build. 

The moral of the story?

Keep your space relevant as your organization evolves. Stop the cycle of treating interiors as disposable. When interiors can respond to change, the environment doesn’t suffer. Plus, money is well spent and time is saved.  

Enjoyed this story? Check out this Instructure video case study exploring another Client’s journey of repurposing and relocating DIRTT.  


DIRTT is a global leader in industrialized construction. Its system of physical products and digital tools empowers organizations, together with construction and design leaders, to build high-performing, adaptable, interior environments. Operating in the commercial, healthcare, education, and public sector markets, DIRTT’s system provides total design freedom, and greater certainty in cost, schedule, and outcomes. Headquartered in the US and Canada, DIRTT trades on Nasdaq under the symbol “DRTT” and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “DRT”.