Monday, August 24, 2009

'Waste not, want not' should be encouraged

Bluffton Today

I want everyone to know that Monday, August 31, will be the legislative meeting for the delegation. The meeting will be in Beaufort County and if you wish to be on the agenda, please call the legislative office and let Ashley know your contribution or requirement. I expect this will be a long and productive meeting and I look forward to hearing directly from you on the issues we are either working on or should be working on.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking before the Green Building Association of Beaufort County. These are a great bunch of folks who are generally leading the building industry into what will be a more appropriate model of prosperity in a resource challenged economic environment. Super efficient insulation and systems combined with new ways of using materials are revolutionizing how we build and power our homes and businesses.

The meeting was held at Corks in the Promenade and was hosted by Pat and Ron Strimpfel, long-time Blufftonians and owners of an innovative company called Preservation by Design. Headquartered in Bluffton, Preservation by Design does some pretty interesting things, not the least of which is taking down old factories and warehouses and using the recycled materials in structures they design/build. You have seen their work in the Garden Gate building on Highway 46 near the 4-way stop.

They recently completed Captain Woody’s Restaurant and are nearing completion of Ted Huffman’s Barbeque Shack. Not only are these some extraordinary buildings, they are made largely from materials that would have probably been hauled to the landfill.

Essentially, they have taken what might have been “waste” that would have been expensive to haul away, and turned it into valuable and distinctive materials that have added value to the new structures into which they were deployed.

One of the things that I really like about this business model is that it is something we in Bluffton have already been doing for generations. Repurposing buildings and reusing materials is just the way things were always done. Matt Taylor’s architecture studio was originally a department store. Jacob Preston’s pottery business is housed in what was once a church. The two art cooperatives on Calhoun Street are in structures that were once government housing on Hilton Head Island during WW2. The list goes on.

By extension, this business model also illustrates one of the bedrock principles of pragmatic conservatism: Value, in all its forms, should be preserved, conserved, and, when appropriate, adapted. This applies equally to the durable wisdom embedded in our constitutional framework and to the 12 by 12 timbers in the old hunting lodge at Palmetto Bluff. It applies to the conservation ethos expressed as “waste not, want not” as it does to the implanted heart that now beats in the chest of our friend George Moody.

With this in mind, I have proposed, and will introduce as legislation, a tax credit to apply to the use of certain reclaimed and reused building materials. While government is not appropriately in the business of choosing winners and losers in the marketplace, it is appropriate for government to reward those business practices that generally reflect positively on societal as well as bottom-line values. This is a proposal that is a win for consumers, for business, as well as posterity.

I will report the particulars as they evolve.