03/01/2008

Diverting Construction Waste

Tips on putting a waste-management and recycling program together to minimize the consequences of construction and demolition debris on the environment

By Linda Monroe

 

Consigli Waste Reduction & Recycling Program Results
(recycling statistics by year):
2007: 14,855.57 tons
2006:  5,858.18 tons 
2005: 7,626.57 tons 
2004:  7,057.36 tons 
2003:  15,336.28 tons 
2002:  3,528.07 tons 
Total:  54,262.03 tons 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selected Decomposition Periods
Fiber: 10 years or more
Plastic: 300-500 years
Aluminum:  200-500 years
Tires:  500 years or more 
Glass: Lasts forever 

 
 

  
 

On a national scale, total building-related construction and demolition (C&D) waste is estimated to be 135.5 million tons — a figure that represents, at 30 percent, the largest single source in the waste stream.

How much do your building projects impact these numbers? Consider the following:

  • The average new construction project yields 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot of building area. Example: A 50,000-square-foot building = 97.5 tons of waste.
  • The average building demolition yields 155 pounds of waste per square foot. Example: A 50,000-square-foot building = 3,875 tons of waste.

Because the environmental consequences of C&D debris are staggering, a number of construction and development firms, industry organizations, and government agencies are advocating C&D waste reduction and recycling programs. The Massachusetts Construction and Demolition Materials Waste Ban is one, where the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulates the disposal, transfer for disposal, or contracting for disposal of certain hazardous and recyclable items at solid-waste facilities in the state. An amendment to the ban, which took effect in mid-2006, now prohibits other commonly used construction and demolition materials (asphalt pavement, brick, concrete, metal, and wood). Be prepared, as these regulations are being touted as models for other states.

Better yet, take a proactive role — as Milford, MA-based Consigli Construction Co. Inc. has done since 2001, when it worked with MassDEP and Northeastern University in a voluntary pilot study to help determine the realities and possibilities of construction-waste recycling. In 2002, Consigli instituted (and continues to refine) a mandatory source-separation policy for all of its jobsites, followed by a company-wide source separation and recycling program. Since this initiative began, Consigli's overall waste-reduction rate is more than 79 percent (89.5 percent for 2007 alone), with some projects achieving even greater results (its recently completed Harvard Blackstone Office renovation project, for instance, attained a 99.5-percent waste-reduction rate).

These regulations affect the construction industry as a whole, but they're not actually being directly imposed on contractors, says Vance Freymann, director of business development at Consigli; rather, MassDEP is monitoring the process among waste haulers, landfills, and transfer stations. Why participate? According to Freymann, jobsite waste reduction and diversion of materials from the landfill can offer a cost-neutral benefit for the developer/owner/builder. "I don't want to represent that there's significant savings in doing this," he says. "What is accurate is that on-site C&D waste management and recycling do not cost additional money. At the same time, there has been very good buy-in from owners looking for actionable green processes and ways to obtain LEED points."

Freymann offers the following steps for putting your C&D waste-management and recycling programs into place:

  • Before construction begins, the owner, architect, and construction manager should commit to achieving the highest level of waste diversion possible and make it a part of the overall plan from Day One.
  • Each project is different; therefore, a comprehensive waste-reduction plan should outline site-specific issues, materials that will be used, which project members will be handling particular materials, and how each material will be recycled (a material-recycling source vs. a third-party handler, etc.). Anticipate the logistics and create the place where multiple dumpsters can be best positioned for the on-site source separation of material. More constrained jobsites might require comprehensive scheduling to move dumpsters in and out to accommodate the C&D removal process.
  • As part of the waste-reduction plan, be sure that standard language in subcontracts informs all members of the project team that they are contractually bound to abide by the waste-reduction programs in place. Inform them that, by signing the contract, they are agreeing to participate.
  • Conduct an orientation with all members of the project team, including the subcontractors, to review the plan. Then, discuss every material that will come off the jobsite and where it will go, including where dumpsters are placed and how each material will be segregated. Magnetic signs work well: Make language concise, large, and prominently placed ("wood," "metal," "asphalt," etc.). Don't make it too easy to work against the end result. Consigli project managers have found that positioning all dumpsters in one location (vs. distributing dumpsters around the jobsite) ensures more effective separation of materials. When all dumpsters are lined up side by side, the tendency to disregard the signage and use the closest available dumpster is minimized.

Linda K. Monroe (linda.monroe@buildings.com) is editorial director at Buildings magazine.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

 

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.


Tennant Company is a recognized leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. With thousands of satisfied customers already using award winning ec-H2O technology, why not see what you're missing? Test ec-H2O on your soils in your facility. Get a free demo.

 

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