Tracking Trash: Construction teams place higher importance on construction waste management
With the advent of LEED, construction managers are viewing the dumpster in a new light. Construction wastes, once relegated to landfills, are now recycled or reused to earn LEED credits and comply with sustainable construction initiatives.
To meet waste management goals, project teams are employing new strategies and setting up tracking systems to document how wastes are recycled and reused.
Meanwhile, greater demand for sustainable construction waste management is creating opportunities for waste recycling centers and spurring expansion of material reuse markets.
In 2004, New York-based Turner Construction committed to recycle construction wastes on all its projects. “Since it follows that what gets measured gets managed, we needed a tool to show that we were fulfilling our commitment,” says Michael Deane, Turner’s chief sustainability officer.
Deane’s waste tracking system, initially developed in Excel, has grown into a software application tightly integrated with the firm’s project management system. Waste haulers are contractually required to input data into the system.
Cardella Waste Services, North Bergen, N.J., was one of the first haulers to use the system. The firm employs mechanical and manual means to separate recyclable materials from comingled waste loads. For each load, Cardella personnel enter the date, container size, tons of waste and percentage of material recycled by type into the Turner system.
“The system is very easy to use and it took no time to train people,” says Dave Cardella, senior vice president.
An e-mail notifies Turner jobsite personnel of new waste entries in the system. Entries are either approved for addition to the database or flagged to resolve discrepancies.
Reports from the system tabulate waste generated and recycled by type across projects, compare waste volumes and diversion rates between business units and look at haulers’ recycling performance. Ad hoc queries link project information, such as square-footage, cost and market segment, to the data.
“We have the ability to sort for hospitals under 100,000-sq.-ft in Texas or any other combination of metrics,” Deane explains.
More than 500,000 tons of waste are documented in the system, of which 300,000 tons have been recycled.
Skanska USA Building, Parsippany, N.J., requires project teams to document wastes streams in the firm’s environmental management system. The tons of waste and percentage of materials diverted by type for all...