If you've noticed the disappearance of a laundry, warehouse and chapel on Fort Leonard Wood, it is not an illusion.

The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, Alabama, Facilities Reduction Program, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, recently finalized a deconstruction pilot project on post.

The project entailed the salvage and reuse of materials from three World War II-era buildings.

The Fort Leonard Wood buildings provided a situation for deconstruction that also supported the Installation Strategic Sustainability Plan for Fort Leonard Wood, said Bryan Parker, Directorate of Public Works chief of planning.

In 2010, Parker went to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to discuss sustainability and find new ways for Fort Leonard Wood to accomplish its mission without wasting water, land or fuel.

"Some of the people I had talked to were in the solid-waste arena, and they were talking about how they had just completed a project where they had deconstructed some old wood barracks and recovered the timber," Parker said.

Parker used JBLM's deconstruction method as a baseline for the World War II-era buildings project -- a laundry, warehouse and chapel.

First, the buildings had to be evaluated.

When evaluating a building for deconstruction, engineers must consider the type of construction, contents and condition and their suitability for reuse, as well as the project itself, project schedule, and markets and industry capabilities.

Driving this process is exactly what former Research Architect Tom Napier, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, did with the Fort Leonard Wood buildings.

"My role was to help support Fort Leonard Wood with the expectation that this project would be completed in parallel with the other sustainability demonstrations, and we would have a result and conclusion for the material salvage and reuse along with water quality and energy," Napier said.

Several things Napier looked at included the nature of the materials, which were mainly dimensional lumber, and whether there was a market, which there was, he said.

Because there was a market for the lumber, deconstruction became even more feasible, and work on the project began.

But, after the project was underway, it hit a snag; the warehouse became unstable during deconstruction efforts because of excessive rotting of the wooden structure. Due to the increase in risk to contractor employees working inside and around the building, the decision was made to stop deconstruction and demolish the building.

However, while the building survived only a portion of the deconstruction effort, not all was lost. The contractor was still able to reuse or recycle 297 tons of material, diverting more than 63 percent from landfill.

The two buildings left -- the chapel and laundry -- proved even more successful. From the chapel, more than 250 tons of material was reused or recycled with almost 85 percent diversion, and nearly 700 tons of material was reused or recycled from the laundry with a 73 percent diversion rate.

Overall, the three buildings totaled 1,717 tons of material of which 1,246 tons was reused or recycled, making the project a successful venture.

During straight demolition, a building is quickly and efficiently torn down, usually with large mechanical devices like excavators, with the main goals being cost reduction and material diversion.

"We reduce real property footprint at minimal cost and divert as much of the material from the removed building as possible to other financially viable uses -- reuse or recycling -- in lieu of sending it all to a landfill," said Dave Shockley, Facilities Division branch chief. "The FRP is meeting or exceeding the 60 percent diversion standard using the demolition approach."

The project, awarded in September 2014, cost less than $800,000, $10.31 per square feet.

(Editor's note: Newcomb is assigned to the Engineering and Support Center.)