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Home / 2011 Newsmakers of the Year / Mortenson sidesteps landfill for project

Mortenson sidesteps landfill for project

2011 Big Diverter, Demolition

M.A. Mortenson Co.

Rob Weise of Mortenson Construction (Photo by Kevin Harnack)

Something big had to come down before the Wisconsin Energy Institute could go up on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

But when M.A. Mortenson Co. demolished the 200,000-square-foot Health Services Building, the contractor didn’t haul the debris to a landfill. Instead, the project team worked with WasteCap Resource Solutions Inc. to find the best ways to recycle and divert.

That teamwork resulted in a 96 percent recycling rate.

“This project was a shining example of a great recycling program,” said Stephen Servais, WasteCap project manager. “We set up a waste-management plan, and Mortenson Construction committed to the program.

“They also brought in a subcontractor, Veit USA, who was committed as well.”

Communication always drives effective jobsite recycling projects, Servais said, and the work of WasteCap, Veit & Co. Inc. and Mortenson prove the point. All three worked together to ensure nothing ended up in a landfill if it could be directed to another use.

Brad King, Mortenson superintendent, said the site’s logistics were challenging as the company worked within a tight space to demolish, organize and move debris. When the project was complete, 10,601 tons of material, equaling 13,869 yards in volume, was diverted from the landfill.

Before the demolition, King said, the team removed and reused many items, such as fixtures, desks and cabinetry.

Early discussions with Habitat for Humanity and the city of Madison resulted in salvaging many materials from the building for reuse reused, Servais said. Reuse, he said, is an even better outcome, both economically and environmentally, than recycling.

The benefits of recycling during demolition projects extend beyond the altruistic value of doing what is best for the environment, said Joe Liebau Jr., WasteCap’s executive director.

“We have worked hard to show that there is a benefit for businesses and the environment through recycling,” Liebau said. “Businesses are starting to see the value in diverting materials.”

When companies send all debris from demolition projects to landfills, they pay for the disposal of the debris, Liebau said. With recycling, they avoid that cost and many times reap the value by selling the materials for reuse or recycling.

“We hope to continue educating everyone on the value of recycling construction and demolition debris,” Liebau said, “and from that it will be obvious that recycling benefits not only the environment but the bottom line as well.”

— Melissa Rigney Baxter

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