Among creative and green-minded home builders and remodelers, using salvaged and recycled building materials—as well as sourcing surplus materials from other pros—is becoming a more viable way to build. To meet increasing demand, the number of materials salvage and recycling centers increases every year—even online.

One such Web exchange for surplus and salvaged building materials was launched this spring by the Reuse Alliance. The C&D Material Trader Network, created specifically for the building trades, aims to create an online community where pros and building materials reuse centers can buy, sell, and donate salvaged and surplus materials, as well as exchange knowledge.

The site works similarly to Craigslist or eBay. Users simply create an account, which takes about a minute, according to MaryEllen Etienne, executive director of the Reuse Alliance. Posting materials for sale or available for donation is free, as is posting a "materials wanted" listing.

"The system also provides automatic reminders, so if you want dimensional lumber or doors, you can create a request, and as soon as an item becomes available you get an e-mail," Etienne says.

Once a successful "match"—sale or donation—has been made for a listed material, the site generates a report based on the EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by the diversion of the materials from landfills (for materials currently covered by WARM).

Although currently small—with active networks in New York and North Carolina only—the Reuse Alliance is working on growing the C&D Material Trader Network to eventually include every state. As the network expands, locations could be broken down by county or locale, rather than by state, Etienne notes.

Stephani L. Miller is Associate Web Editor for Custom Home Online.