Going green, earning green

CATA Building Construction students’ recycling project helps fund program

CATA first-year Building Construction students from Fairview High School work on a large doghouse. Left to right are Jayden Allred, Jacob Needham and Zach Benson. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – While visiting the Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA) recently, The Tribune dropped in on teacher Mike Burkett in the Building Construction shop and discovered a cool project underway. Students are turning salvaged shipping pallets into fancy doghouses and storage buildings. Revenues from the sales of the buildings comes back into the shop to fund field trips, equipment purchases and other expenses. 

Said Burkett, “It’s what we call a ‘scrappy doghouse,’ and we use used pallets to save lumber and to keep them out of the landfill. Then we stick frame them above that, and then we clad them with metal all the way: roof and sides. Then we put them out on the road for sale.”

The use of recycled materials for part of the construction allows the department to keep costs down, so the buildings sell for around only $200. Burkett shared that, at any given moment, there are approximately one billion pallets around the world. Most are oak and are used only once before becoming landfill waste or litter.  

Burkett added, “It’s a green project and the kids learn framing, and it helps the environment.”

The regular size is 8 feet by 8 feet, but Burkett told The Tribune the shop can also build smaller versions by request. Most buyers use the buildings as large doghouses; dog rescue services have proven to be great customers. Others use them for storage. 

The project covers multiple bases: it is environmentally-friendly, teaches required program skills, provides customers a low-cost product and helps keep a CATA educational program at the top of its game.

If you are interested in purchasing a scrappy doghouse, contact CATA at 256-734-7740.

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W.C. Mann