Demolition leads to discovery
Published: November 1, 2009
By Rick Moon
The old 1212 Building at 12th Street and Wisconsin Avenue on Marquette University’s campus might not have been much to look at, but its destruction was a masterpiece in recycling.
The bland six-story concrete office building was torn down this year to make way for Zilber Hall, which will house Marquette administration and student services.
Befitting Marquette University’s role as an educational institution, the demolition taught Michael Jahner, project manager for Marquette, and others a thing or two about the feasibility of recycling.
Less than 2 percent of the broken materials and rubbish from the 1212 Building was sent to landfills — a diversion rate of 98.51 percent. The five-month, $250,000 demolition project recycled large amounts of material such as steel, concrete, drywall, ceiling tiles and wood doors.
What surprised Jahner and others was how cost-effective it was achieving the high diversion rate.
“Our goal is always to be fiscally responsible,” Jahner said. “In this
case, recycling was the responsible thing to do.”
Increasing tipping fees at landfills and related taxes have made saving usable materials less of a choice and more of a necessity, said Ron Retzer, president of SCS of Wisconsin Inc., the Menomonee Falls-based contractor that took down the 1212 Building.
“The market dictates a lot, how much you’re going to go through it,” he said “It’s been going on longer than everyone’s aware of. Ninety-nine percent of your demo contractors are not demo contractors anymore; they’re more separation-and-recovery operations.”
Jahner said he could not quantify the savings from the high diversion rate of the 1212 Building demolition, but he said he has a feeling it saved money.
Regardless of exact cost savings, Marquette is building off the waste-reduction success of the 1212 demolition with ongoing projects. Work continues on a new law school building, Eckstein Hall, where the recycling rate is 95 percent, Jahner said, and the university wants to achieve another high diversion rate during upcoming construction of the Discovery Learning Center.
“Hopefully,” Jahner said, “some of the lessons we learned on this project we can apply to that project.”