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ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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  • Effective Specifications for Construction Waste Recycling

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    Effective Specifications for Construction Waste Recycling


    Following are the general components of the C&D waste specification section 01505:

    • Intent of the waste management goals for the project
    • Draft waste management plan
    • Materials for which recycling is required
    • Final waste management plan
    • Waste management plan implementation
    • Reporting requirements: interim and final

    The architect's specifications will typically state the required components of the final waste management plan. Most often, these minimum requirements are:

    1. Review: Analysis of the proposed jobsite waste to be generated, including types and quantities.

    2. Landfill options: The name(s) of the landfill(s) where trash will be disposed of, the applicable landfill tipping fee(s), and the projected cost of disposing of all project waste in the landfill(s).

    3. Alternatives to landfilling: A list of the waste materials from the project that will be separated for reuse, salvage, or recycling.

    4. Meetings: A description of the regular meetings to be held to address waste management.

    5. Materials handling procedures: A description of the means by which any waste materials identified in item 3 above will be protected from contamination, and a description of the means to be employed in recycling the above materials consistent with requirements for acceptance by designated facilities.

    6. Transportation: A description of the means of transportation of the recyclable materials (whether materials will be separated on-site and self-hauled to designated centers, or whether mixed materials will be collected by a waste hauler and removed from the site) and destination of materials.

    Contractors and Specification Conflicts

    Architects are professional and well intentioned. When they write specifications, they are genuinely interested in providing the contractor with clear guidance regarding the intent and requirements of the recycling program. The specification language, of necessity, needs to be precise and strict to clearly convey the owner's intent.

    Sometimes, however, this need for precision comes into conflict with the realities of how C&D waste is actually managed on a construction project. These types of conflicts typically occur in several areas:

    • Extent of recycled products: Conflicts occur in cases in which the construction specifications require the recycling of a product for which there is no market.

    • Specific container and management requirements: Conflicts occur when the design professional strays into the means and methods of construction by stating specific container sizes and requirements for the recycling zone.

    • Bid requirements: Architects occasionally require bidding contractors to submit waste management plans as part of their bid, and to propose a recycling rate that they can meet. This is practical in new construction, but impractical in demolition and renovation work, where a complete site assessment is necessary to estimate the recycling rate.

    Another type of problem that occasionally occurs is when owners realize that salvage items in their facility have more value than they knew.

    The bid documents may not be explicit in stating whether the owner or contractor is entitled to the value of architectural salvage, and owners may claim that value for themselves once they realize that architectural salvage is one of the few areas where recycling money may actually flow into the project coffers.

    When this issue occurs, there is no easy solution other than for both parties to clearly state their position and either negotiate or mediate a resolution. Contractors who have experienced this issue previously, or see the potential for such a claim occurring, should seek to clarify the issue in pre-bid requests for information or in specific language in the owner/ contractor agreement.

    The best method of handling these types of conflicts is for the contractor to ensure that the architect is an integral part of the recycling team from the very beginning. If an owner's representative is available, it is advantageous for that person to be included as well.

    When these individuals are present at the initial on-site assessment, for instance, they are able to see for themselves the difficulties affecting compliance with the bid or project requirements, and are much more likely to agree to measures that adjust those requirements to better meet the circumstances.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    Greg Winkler, AIA, LEED AP, has over 27 years of experience as a practicing architect and owner's representative on commercial, industrial, and institutional projects. A graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology, he has participated in construction projects as a design professional, design-builder, and owner's agent. He is the author of Construction Administration for Architects, and currently serves as the director of the Mid-Atlantic Precast Association, a construction trade organization.

    This article is excerpted from Recycling Construction & Demolition Waste: A LEED-Based Toolkit by Greg Winkler, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, McGraw-Hill.



    ArchWeek Image

    Most residential construction waste consists of wood and gypsum board cut-off material.
    Photo: Courtesy McGraw-Hill Extra Large Image

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    Table of typical residential demolition waste components.
    Image: McGraw-Hill

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    Questions to ask potential recyclers of construction and demolition waste.
    Image: McGraw-Hill

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    Examples of products made from construction waste materials.
    Image: McGraw-Hill

    ArchWeek Image

    Chart showing the proportions of various materials in the typical waste stream for new commercial construction.
    Image: McGraw-Hill

    ArchWeek Image

    Chart showing the proportions of various materials in the typical waste stream for demolition.
    Image: McGraw-Hill

    ArchWeek Image

    LEED credits for waste management and recycling.
    Image: McGraw-Hill

    ArchWeek Image

    Recycling Construction & Demolition Waste: A LEED-Based Toolkit by Greg Winkler.
    Image: McGraw-Hill Extra Large Image


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