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256. Consumer Co-op in Boston Provides Affordable Materials for Home Improvement

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Coop Name: Boston Building Resources N° of Employees: 7
City: Boston N° of Members: 1000
Country: United States Year of formation: 1978
Website: http://www.bostonbuildingresources.com Twitter: Link
Facebook: Link
About this coop:

Boston Building Resources's consumer co-op provides new materials for home improvement with a special focus on kitchen cabinetry, windows, doors, energy-saving products, and green products. Beyond simply buying products, customers can find expert advice, technical assistance, and hands-on workshops that teach home improvement skills. Boston Building Resources is also a source for environmentally beneficial materials (energy efficient, water saving, and containing recycled content) such as rain barrels, home compost bins, weather stripping, and green kitchen cabinetry.

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Boston Building Resources has been helping people with home improvement materials and knowledge since 1978.

As the energy crisis of the 1970s caused home heating costs to skyrocket, a group of Boston residents decided to help their neighbors who were living in drafty, uninsulated homes. They founded the Boston Building Materials Co-op with the vision of providing people with a source of affordable materials to make their homes more energy-efficient, and the knowledge of how to do the work themselves. The co-op’s first years were focused on providing blown-in cellulose insulation, window repair, and high-quality storm windows. The organization moved to its current location in 1990, into a building that was designed for maximum energy efficiency and passive solar heating.

Over the years, the co-op expanded its offerings, especially in the area of kitchen cabinetry and kitchen design. In addition to materials, hands-on home improvement classes are offered on topics including kitchen design, finish carpentry, window rehab, sheetrocking and taping, tiling, home electrical safety, power tools, and much more. Workshop instructors are trade professionals who volunteer their time.

In 1993, the Boston Building Materials Co-op Charitable and Educational Fund started a nonprofit Reuse Center. Co-op members who worked in the construction and architecture fields saw how much reusable material was being discarded while, at the same time, many homeowners struggled to afford the materials they needed to keep their homes in good repair. The Reuse Center was founded to divert good materials away from becoming waste and make them available at affordable prices to hardworking homeowners.

In its first two years, the Reuse Center operated out of unheated trailers and shared showroom space with the co-op. Sales of donated materials, from a handful in the early years, grew steadily, and a new building to house the Reuse Center was constructed.

The change to the name Boston Building Resources was made in 2011.

Author of this story
Deb Beatty Mel
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