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September 2006

 

Recycling C & D waste key to holding costs down

Construction and demolition waste recycling may be the key to holding down costs while constructing environmentally-friendly buildings.

Wisconsin has seen a growing number of green buildings in the last few years, and now the state’s number of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings has reached eight. WasteCap Wisconsin, a state-side non-profit organization located in Milwaukee and Madison, has worked with four of these eight projects to help achieve LEED certification points through construction and demolition waste management.

“Waste recycling is valuable, especially where we are dealing with large amounts of materials,” said Barbara Monk, marketing coordinator for The Bentley Corporation in Milwaukee. “Construction waste recycling is in its infancy and is something that I believe we will see more and more of in the coming years.”

Mike Walters, sustainable systems and energy analyst with Affiliated Engineers Inc. in Madison, said working with experts on construction and demolition waste recycling helps to build a solid waste management plan.

“Education is the key to success,” said Walters. “We have weekly or monthly meetings to make sure everyone’s on track.”

A construction waste management plan should be designed before construction or demolition begins, and all site workers should be given instructions on what to do with waste materials.

The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center worked with WasteCap Wisconsin in 2000 on its project to demolish its old nature center and build a new LEED certified one. WasteCap Wisconsin developed a waste management plan for the 34,000 square-foot construction project that eliminated over three quarters of its total waste by weight and reduced its disposal costs by almost one-half, resulting in a savings of over $6,500.

“One of the best benefits of a recycling program is some cost savings, usually in the thousands of dollars,” said Walters. “And you can do a lot of environmental good.” Walters said most projects now reach recycling rates of at least 60 percent.

Besides environmental benefits and cost savings, construction and demolition recycling carries other benefits.

“Recycling sites are the cleanest job sites that I can remember,” said Monique Charlier, division vice president of The Jansen Group Inc. in Milwaukee, who worked on the Schlitz Audubon Center. Charlier said that workers at recycling sites seem to have a sense of responsibility to keep the site organized.

Monk said that implementing a recycling program on a construction or demolition site is simple, and “similar to what we do in our homes where we want to separate plastic containers from aluminum from paper.”

Recycling construction waste adds little or no extra time per week for an entire jobsite. Clearly labeling dumpsters helps ensure that materials are kept in the appropriate containers which will reduce the need to sort through dumpsters.

Recycling dumpsters tend to be less expensive than trash dumpsters and over the time period of one year, it is possible to reduce disposal costs by tens of thousands of dollars with a waste management plan. Some construction-site materials that may qualify as recyclables are cans and bottles, clean paper, cardboard, untreated wood, concrete, drywall, scrap metal, asphalt, and brick.

“Any project of significant scale is a great candidate for a waste management plan,” said Walters.

There are several local resources available to help develop waste management plans, including WasteCap Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, and the Department of Natural Resources. WasteCap Wisconsin will hold its Construction and Demolition Waste Management and Recycling Training Program on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at Waukesha State Bank in Oconomowoc to train professionals involved in the building process how to set up and manage waste management plans. For more information, visit www.wastecapwi.org/training.


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