A semester after Commons closed, Yale auctioned off refrigerators, chairs, tables, plates and more, as the University looked forward to the construction of the new Schwarzman Center. That auction ended earlier this month.

Yale ran two online auctions for the items on the first floor of Commons and one for items in its basement, both of which concluded in mid-January. Gerry Remer, the director of sustainability and supply management for Yale Hospitality, explained that the auctions were designed to repurpose equipment that would otherwise go to waste and allow Yale community members to take home mementos of the storied campus centerpiece.

“Before the decommissioning and demolition phase, our strategy is to repurpose equipment with remaining life cycle,” Remer said. “Reducing waste, in this instance acting to avoid sending items to a landfill, is a pillar of our sustainability plan.”

In the two January auctions, buyers could place bids for professional-grade appliances and equipment such as industrial refrigerators, ice makers, fryers and sinks, as well as tables and more than 1,000 chairs. Buyers included students, faculty members and New Haven residents and business owners.

Referring to the event as a rare “chance to bring home a piece of Yale history,” the auction’s online description goes on to underscore the low starting price for all the items. Bids for all items started at $1 — even for an industrial dishwasher priced at over $50,000. These low starting prices ensured that everyone had the opportunity to bid on items they wanted and that all items would be sold, according to a University press release.

One student, Jay Son ’20, said he bought a pack of 24 chairs for $1 apiece, hoping to resell them to other students who want a relic from the building’s history.

“It seems like a lot of people want to own a piece of Commons history, but nobody wanted to go through the hassle of actually bidding for it,” he said.

While Remer said the University has not yet determined how the revenue will be used, Adam Millman, a senior director of Yale Dining, said it will likely go toward funding special student events, such as this Wednesday’s dinner with Chef Elizabeth Falkner and yoga instructor Ariel Kiley.

University spokesman Tom Conroy said the auction reflects Yale’s dedication to minimizing the amount of waste it creates as it builds the Schwarzman Center.

“The hope is that the auction will lead to items having an additional useful life, in keeping with Yale’s commitment to sustainability,” Conroy said.

In fact, one of the goals set forth in Yale’s new sustainability plan for 2025 is the implementation of sustainable disposal techniques. Other items from Commons were reallocated within Yale Dining, donated to local organizations or repurposed, so that they may continue to be used.

The auction helps clear the way for Yale to break ground for the construction of the new, and somewhat controversial, Schwarzman Center. The center, which Yale hopes will be a focal point for campus life, will be funded by a $150 million donation from Stephen Schwarzman ’69, the second largest donation in University history. Some students and faculty members view the renovations as unnecessary, while others are optimistic about what the new space will do for the community.

Major construction on the Schwarzman Center is set to begin over the summer, and the renovated student center is expected to open in 2020.

Niki Anderson | niki.anderson@yale.edu