Meet the researcher: Victor Krause

Man dressed in hockey gear stands behind a lap top computer
April 28, 2020

Victor Krause collaborates from the Twin Ports to the Twin Cities to drive innovations that reduces landfill waste.

Two-by-fours and old-growth floor beams have valuable reuse opportunities, if pulled from old structures before they’re demolished. Building deconstruction is a thing. NRRI’s Victor Krause is collaborating within the institute and across Minnesota to make it a big thing.

Krause joined a state-wide Sustainable Building Group that is working to create a more circular economy around used buildings and building materials.

“Many people don’t realize that the amount of waste generated from construction and demolition is increasing at an alarming rate – nearly as much now as municipal solid waste,” Krause explained. “Landfills that aren’t designed to contain these materials are finding it difficult to keep hazardous compounds away from groundwater sources.”

Specially trained building deconstruction crews separate usable materials at the building site. Krause, a materials testing specialist, enjoys his role in identifying potential value and developing marketable products. The state-wide group is drafting recommendations for new rules, regulations and practices as well as making designers and other end users aware of the availability of these materials.

And while that’s work to be proud of, Krause is especially pleased to be working with a social enterprise business based in Minneapolis, Better Futures Minnesota. Together they are developing a business model to hire and train those with employment barriers for deconstruction crews. Reclaimed materials are sold at their Minneapolis ReUse Warehouse.

Research Collaborations @ NRRI

NRRI’s wide variety of skill sets has been especially valuable to this project. Wood Products Specialist, Scott Johnson, trains and develops the woodworking skills of Better Futures employees. He’s also helping them to develop a maker-space in the Twin Cities to build products. Research Engineer, Tim Hagen, applies creativity and innovation to new uses for waste materials. Water Research Group scientists -- Valerie Brady, Kari Hanson, Holly Wellard Kelly and Bob Hell – contributed knowledge about harmful chemicals that can leach out of decomposing materials in the landfill. This information will go into a database that can substantiate the environmental benefits of the program.

Research Support @ NRRI

Positive media attention for this project is key to getting the word out to the public about the valuable materials and reuse potential of deconstruction. June Breneman, NRRI External Affairs manager, was able to garner state-wide media attention on a St. Louis County pilot demonstration project, leading to another project with the City of Duluth when it’s safe to do so. 

Krause in Quarantine

“If I couldn’t quarantine with family, I’d choose to be isolated with my hockey buddies. We’d figure out how to turn a basement into a hockey rink and keep playing the game we all enjoy, then relax with a beer and watch reruns of The Miracle on Ice.”