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Making plans: a New England contractor conducts careful planning for its construction materials recycling program.

Impending regulations in Massachusetts will mark a major change in the handling of construction and demolition (C&D) materials. As planned, a ban will be enforced by mid-2004 that will prevent landfill deposits of asphalt, brick, cardboard, concrete, wood and metal coming from commercial construction sites. These regulations will directly address a major source of landfill volume in Massachusetts and are expected to be a model for other states.

Consigli Construction Co., Inc., a Massachusetts-based construction manager and general contractor, has been involved in a voluntary pilot study of C&D source separation and recycling since 2001.

Consigli is providing data on waste reduction results for five projects that will be published as case studies for other builders to follow once the regulations are in place. Consigli is also providing data to Northeastern University in Boston for use in the development of a software simulation model that will help to predict construction waste streams.


To date, Consigli has found little adverse impact as a result of its waste reduction efforts. In most circumstances, waste reduction can be achieved at marginal additional cost, given proper advance planning. Consigli has implemented a company-wide source separation program, encompassing all of its projects, and has remained competitive against contractors not currently required to recycle.

On some of the projects, Consigli has worked with Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, a Massachusetts-based architecture and engineering firm that advocates sound environmental practices in design and construction. One role of the designer is to help establish a proper project team mindset early in the project development process to ensure later adherence and optimum results.

More than 136 million tons of building-related debris from construction and demolition sites is generated every year, making it the single largest source in the waste stream. Figures developed by the U.S. EPA help the building owners, designers and contractors to understand the magnitude of C&D waste. In commercial construction, a typical new building generates an average of 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot of building area. To put this in perspective, a new 50,000-square-foot building--a typical college residence hall or mid-size suburban office building--will produce almost 100 tons of waste.

Change the activity to demolition and the figures increase dramatically. In this case commercial buildings yield an average of 155 pounds per square foot of building area. Turn the same 50,000-square-fool building into a demolition project, and the result will be almost 4,000 tons of waste.

In Massachusetts the proportionate impact of C&D is similar to national figures. Overall, roughly 1 million tons of C&D go from Massachusetts construction sites to landfills annually. Of this amount, 660,000 tons are deposited at instate landfills, while some 320,000 tons are exported. C&D accounts for roughly 25 percent of all Massachusetts landfill deposits and fully 95 percent of the non-municipal solid waste (MSW) stream.


With landfills in the state nearing capacity and heightened environmental concerns, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is now drafting regulations on C&D waste that should take effect by the end of 2004. While other county and municipal governments have imposed C&D bans, the Massachusetts regulations will constitute the country's first statewide initiative.

As currently proposed, the regulations will initially ban asphalt, brick, concrete, wood and metal from landfills. An existing ban on corrugated cardboard will be enforced in conjunction with the newly banned materials. Other materials may be added to the ban once the regulations are in place. The stated goal of the DEP program is an 88 percent non-MSW landfill diversion rate by 2010.

The detailed C&D recommendations of the Massachusetts DEP can be found in the document "Beyond 2000 Solid Waste Master Plan," which is accessible on-line at mplan.swmp.doc.

When the new Massachusetts regulations go in to effect, contractors will have three options for handling C&D waste:

1) Waste management planning, centered on direct reuse and on-site source separation and recycling.

2) Continued deposit of all materials in mixed C&D dumpsters. This will require later separation of the banned materials by a third party at a remote site, prior to landfill transfer.

3) Continued deposit of all materials in mixed C&D dumpsters, with subsequent hauling by truck and/or rail to out-of-state landfills.


The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.

Developed and maintained by the U.S Green Building Council, the system assigns points for using energy-efficient designs and recycling-friendly products in the construction and renovation of buildings. The more points received, the more "green" the building is considered.

The foremost objective to assure a successful process, especially with LEED certification, is to set the "mindset" of the team--consisting of the owner, architect/engineer and contractor--to maximize the integration of sustainable design. This can require an initial effort of the design team to educate the owner about LEED.

As the expectations and objectives are set through the programming phase, the designers must start including the appropriate language in the drawings and specs to ensure that a C&D waste management plan is captured in the early budget estimates. This also gives time for assimilation by team participants not familiar with C&D management and recycling.

Proper construction waste management can earn as many as two LEED points.and can help generate momentum for the Resource Reuse credit, MRc-3, with two potential points.

Different types of buildings/projects might make this early stage construction waste management effort difficult. For example, public school projects, which in Massachusetts are administered under the cumbersome filed sub-bid process, can be challenging, especially when it comes to the implementation of a non-traditional activity such as a waste management plan.

Currently on the East Coast, most contractors working on public projects are not familiar with many C&D recycling processes. The combination of a client unfamiliar with construction practices and a contractor lacking understanding of the process makes C&D management a seemingly difficult task. The effort may be overpriced and, therefore, eliminated or value engineered out of the project by a client facing strict budget restrictions.


Working with Massachusetts DEP, Consigli Construction has entered into a voluntary pilot study to help determine the realities and possibilities of construction waste recycling. Consigli has implemented a company-wide source separation and recycling program at all job sites, whether green field or urban renovation. The six materials targeted in the C&D regulations ate being regularly recycled. The program also includes ceiling the, new scrap gypsum, carpet and other materials.

Consigli began the pilot program in the fall of 2001. Initially, three projects were targeted fur case studies, with findings to be published by the DEP; this has since been increased to five. The projects were chosen to give situational analyses of a variety of circumstances. Variable conditions include new construction vs. renovation; urban, suburban and rural sites; public vs. private procurement; building and material types; and lump sum vs. negotiated contracts.

Once the initial pilot studies were underway, Consigli determined that it was more effective to treat waste reduction as a company-wide program rather than an isolated activity on select job sites. Consigli established a source-separation program on all job sites in mid-2002.


Based on the waste management hierarchy (going from best to worst option, in environmental terms) of reduce, reuse, recycle/compost, incinerate or deposit in a landfill, Consigli has established a three-tier system:

Tier I: Direct Reuse and Recycling

* Materials 100 percent reused or recycled;

* Materials recycled by Consigli on the same job site or another Consigli site;

* Materials recycled with plant or sent to a manufacturer;

* Typically Consigli equipment used; and

* Avoid outside disposal and hauling costs.

Directly recycled materials include wood, concrete, asphalt, brick, metal, ceiling tiles, carpet, new scrap gypsum board, plastics, oil filters, fuel filters, antifreeze paper and others not listed.

Tier II: Source-Separated Materials

* Materials 100 percent recycled;

* Materials source separated by Consigli in segregated dumpsters;

* Waste haulers used to deliver materials;

* Established reduced removal fees for source-separated materials; and

* Standard haul rate incurred. Source separation includes the six materials proposed in the DEP ban: wood, concrete, asphalt, brick, metal and cardboard. Other materials, such as new gypsum scrap, have also been included.

Tier III: Mixed C&D to Landfills

* When Direct Recycling (Tier I) and Source Separation (Tier II) are not possible;

* Material goes to a mixed C&D dumpster;

* Highest disposal fee and hauling fee incurred; and

* Waste is deposited at a landfill.


Consigli created an in-house Environmental Protection Committee, or "Green Team," with representation from all company departments, to create and monitor the company's environmental policies.

Orientation for all staff is mandatory. Before breaking ground, project management teams develop a recycling plan for all materials expected to be generated. At each site, a Consigli employee is given compliance monitoring responsibility, and status is monitored regularly and reviewed monthly.

Consigli conducts specific orientation and training activities for all subcontractors. The program description and goals are provided, and standard recycling language is used in "all contracts. Site and dumpster signage is mandatory. Subcontractors are notified by contract and in jobsite signage that penalties will be charged to any subcontractor for repeat contaminations.


Since implementing the program in the last quarter of 2001, Consigli has achieved an overall waste reduction rate of 72.7 percent on projects with source-separation operations. The five DEP case study projects have accounted for a total of 3,682 tons of C&D materials, of which 3,365 tons, or 91.4 percent, have been diverted from landfills. Waste reduction rates on the individual case study projects range from 64 percent (Douglas Schools) to 98 percent (Clarke Distribution).

Preliminary findings show that construction recycling can prove to be cost-effective. Companies can save money by separating construction debris efficiently on site, thereby paying less to dispose of material.

Advance planning is a must, and plans may differ for each project in light of site conditions, location (urban vs. rural), size and construction type (new vs. renovation).

Other significant benefits to the program have been employee involvement (enthusiasm is very strong), self-performance capabilities and centralized yard, as well as good subcontractor buy-in, with few problems or complaints to date.

Consigli Construction and Symmes Maini & McKee Associates have recognized the impact of the waste generated by their construction projects. The companies share the belief that waste reduction planning makes sense both environmentally and financially. By reducing the cost of disposal, the building team can potentially save money and help the environment.

The market for recycled construction materials should grow with industry acceptance. Once the Massachusetts C&D ban takes effect, waste management planning and recycling will potentially become cost neutral or even cost beneficial vs. third-party separation and exporting, as hauling and tip-fee incentives are given to contractors who reduce processing labor by source-separating materials on the job site.

Based on the results of the Massachusetts initiative, it is expected that other New England and Northeast states will follow suit with similar bans on C&D deposits at landfills, thus diminishing the viability of out-of-state exporting as a disposal option.

By achieving an overall diversion rate to date of 72.7 percent and project-specific diversion rates of 90 percent or better, Consigli has demonstrated that the two LEED points available through MRc-2 can realistically be achieved with proper waste management planning.

CASE STUDY: St. Paul's Cathedral-Worcester, Mass.

Consigli was the lead contractor for the renovation of the 10,200-square-foot basement reception area of Saint Paul's Cathedral. The church is a 130-year-old granite structure in a congested urban neighborhood in the center of Worcester, the state's second largest city.

Through Consigli's and St. Paul's recycling efforts, $16,371 was saved, and 78 percent of waste was diverted from disposal at local landfills. Materials recycled include concrete and wood paneling.

Unique to the project was a savings of $5,500 by reusing wood paneling. The price of replacing the original woodwork with antique ash would have been three times higher than the price of the careful rehabilitation of the existing woodwork; The architect emphasized the historic and economic value of preserving the original woodwork, as it was custom made for the cathedral, dating back to renovations done at the turn of the century. By saving the woodwork, the project not only reduced material costs, but also preserved an important piece of the social room's history.

Keys to success on the project include:

* Talking to the client during the planning stage to review the materials currently in use and to identify opportunities to reuse them in the renovation.

* When preparing a cost estimate for the client, make the benefits of reuse transparent. Include replacement costs and avoided transport of salvaged materials as part of a cost-benefit analysis.

* If the project does not provide an option to reuse materials on site, then consider other options. Revenue can be generated through selling the rights to salvage materials to a salvage company or by holding an on-site sale or auction. Alternatively, the building owner can get a tax deduction for donating the materials to a non-profit organization or municipal agency.

The author can be contacted via e-mail at;; and
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Title Annotation:Construction Recycling Trends
Author:Freymann, Vance
Publication:Construction & Demolition Recycling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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