At Dwell on Design on Sunday, June 23, on the Sustainable Design stage a trio of do-gooders will discuss their latest undertaking: building 15 LEED-certified libraries in Mexico, using donated surplus office furniture and architectural materials, for the organization The World is Just a Book Away. This will be a great opportunity to learn about local nonprofits ANEW, which cleverly diverts decommissioned commercial furniture and finishings from landfills by matching it to other nonprofits, and the United States Green Building Council Los Angeles Chapter, which represents L.A.’s sustainable and green built environment. Rose Tourje (ANEW), Dr. Jorge Partida (USGBC), and James Owens (WIJABA) will discuss how the collaborative project is progressing.
As a preview, we reached out to ANEW for some more details about their organization and the library project collaboration.
Dwell: Tell me about ANEW, in a nutshell... when was it founded, what do you guys do, and why?
Founded in 2005, ANEW, a 501 (C)(3) non-profit organization, provides companies with alternative liquidation strategies for their surplus furniture, fixtures, equipment and architectural material. We match the surplus to charities, other non-profits, public agencies and underserved communities. These actions reduce capital expenditures, thereby increasing funds toward programs which advance their missions. In doing this ANEW diverts over one million pounds from landfill each year. The ANEW core practice is social sustainability—uniting social responsibility with environmental sustainability.
ANEW was brought into existence due to need. Until 2005, the industry standard was to have a demolition crew lug the surplus out of commercial space and haul it to landfill.
Dwell: How did you come to work with The World is Just a Book Away [http://theworldisjustabookaway.com/]? What drew you to their work?
ANEW was introduced to the program by Dr. Jorge Partida, Executive Director of USGBC-LA; we were selected and announced as a Community Partner by USGBC-LA last September at their Green Gala. Currently the program is conducting the construction of thirteen libraries in Chihuahua, Mexico. Jorge and USGBC-LA have a series of priority projects; we were selected as a partner because USGBC-LA and James Owens, USC economics professor and founder of WIJABA, determined that ANEW is a good fit. We've done work in Baja California previously with Ninos de Baja, an orphanage and hospital.
Dwell: What's the goal of this library project? How are the various organizations collaborating, and what are you each bringing to the table?
The mission of WIJABA is to promote literacy and education by developing libraries and programs in underserved communities. These programs promote leadership, environmental consciousness, and community connection. USGBC-LA is fulfilling their interest in building the community partnership program. ANEW expands by connecting and collaborating with partners. For the Chihuahua project we're supplying carpet, furniture, and other items, such as whiteboards. The books are procured via outreach to major education publishers.
Dwell: What's next for ANEW? What's your dream project?
We're continuing our growth, taking on more projects, bringing more sponsors aboard, engaging in more collaborations with partners and sponsors, and extending community outreach.
The dream project for ANEW is scaling and standardizing liquidation practices with global corporations the same way we now do with domestic collaborators, such as the Full Circle Program with Knoll. The goal is to embed the ANEW process within building and property management plans, and to encourage designers in all industries to include sustainable materials and options for product end-of-life.