By: Marc Spiegel, Rubicon Global

Attendees at this year’s Greenbuild Conference & Expo are no strangers to the idea that construction and demolition (C&D) recycling and diversion from the landfill in your project is a cost-saving, not a cost center, if done properly.

The results speak for themselves and have been replicated on countless C&D projects over the years. But how well has this message been heard by the home and commercial property builders who have yet to put diversion at the center of their work? Better yet, how is this message being disseminated to executives who think more strategically about giving their company an upper-hand?

There is a misconception among some sectors of the general public, as well as numerous construction companies, that diverting materials away from the landfill and into recycling streams is more expensive than simply disposing of C&D waste in a landfill.

It’s my belief, however, that C&D recycling and diversion can be a cost-saving, not a cost center, for almost all C&D projects. All a project needs is the right plan, knowledge of infrastructure, and the ability to do something differently from what they have done for decades.

Recycling is a Cost-Saving

Consider LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a green building certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). For a building to become LEED-certified it must use resources (many of which are nonrenewable) more efficiently than they would if they were simply trying to stick to a standard building code—and in most cases, for a building to be LEED-certified from the moment it’s completed, it must divert the vast majority of its C&D waste from the landfill and into recycling streams.

Earlier this year, State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia received LEED Gold certification after partnering with Rubicon to recycle 12,500 seats from the arena as part of a refurbishment project. The project resulted in 64 tons of recyclable material being identified.

Green buildings can have lower maintenance costs, can significantly cut down on waste, and can be better for a developer’s bottom line. This is no trivial thing.

How to Divert C&D Materials

This isn’t just true of LEED buildings. C&D recycling and diversion is a cost-saving regardless of a building or other construction project’s certification, as materials that would otherwise have been sent to landfill have a monetary value that you can leverage.

When you recycle C&D waste, the cost of recycling these materials is often less than the cost of standard disposal fees because you receive some of the value back from recycling these materials; especially valuable ones, such as aluminum, copper, and other non-ferrous metals.

To determine how you can save money on your waste disposal fees on your next C&D project (while also doing something good for the environment), get in touch with an expert and ask them how they can help you recover in your area. Typically this consists of metals, wood, concrete, and gypsum, but more can be added to this list depending on the scope of your project.

Remember, you don’t need to spend more to be a more sustainable business, and do the right thing for the environment.

About the Author: Marc Spiegel is a Co-Founder and Head of Construction & Demolition Project Solutions at Rubicon Global, a technology company born in the waste and recycling industry. You can contact Marc at marc.spiegel@rubiconglobal.com.

Showcasing some of the most impactful success stories from Greenbuild 2018.

ISSUE

Humans create a staggering amount of waste. Traditionally there have been three ways to dispose of waste: recycle, compost, or send it to landfill. However, waste management markets are evolving. Cities across the U.S. have historically shipped much of their used paper, plastics and other scrap materials to China for processing. As part of a broad anti-pollution campaign, China announced in the summer of 2017 that it no longer wanted to import “foreign garbage.” Since January 1, 2018, China has banned imports of various types of plastic and paper, and tightened standards for materials it does accept, drying up the markets for standard recyclable materials. Now more than ever, we must look at methods to reduce the resources and materials used to produce Greenbuild.

ACTIONS

In 2018, a significant source of waste reduction resulted from a size and quantity reduction of the printed Greenbuild Expo Guide. The size of the guide was reduced from a standard 8.5” x 11” to a 6” x 9” booklet, and attendees were asked to indicate if they wanted a printed guide during registration, significantly reducing overages in printing.

In 2018, Greenbuild registered for a TRUE Zero Waste Certification, after achieving Platinum certification in 2017. To achieve this, the lifecycle of the products and materials used to produce the show and those used by show partners had to be reevaluated. For the second year in a row, Greenbuild achieved TRUE Platinum certification. In order to meet the requirements of the certification, Greenbuild was able to identify our first TRUE Waste Diversion Rate, which differs from a traditional diversion rate in that it factors in reduction and reuse weights. Please see the case study from below for further information.

The TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Zero Waste certification system goes far beyond measuring and tracking ways in which waste is reused, recycled, or composted to calculating how waste is diverted from landfill, incineration (WTE) and the environment. TRUE encourages projects to track waste that was avoided in the first place. The rating system recognizes reductions based on waste diversion calculations, provided that the modifications are documented from an established baseline, representing previous operations.

The motto of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” is familiar to many, but the emphasis has historically been on the latter two, leaving reduction as the oft-forgotten of the three “Rs.” Including reduction as a part of the diversion, calculations encourage projects to identify tactics that eliminate unnecessary waste before it is created. Waste reduction is prioritized in TRUE because it reduces the need to extract virgin resources from the environment in the first place. It also reduces all the other impacts in the supply chain such as transportation and production. Thus, a reduction has the most benefit to the environment over reuse, recycling, and compost.

This year Greenbuild looked to identify our first TRUE Waste Diversion Rate, in which we tracked and then factored in waste reduction and reuse weights.

Read the rest of the sustainability stories in the Greenbuild 2018 Sustainability Report here.

Greenbuild continues to prioritize sustainability and demonstrate leadership when it comes to greening the conference and events industry. This year’s conference will take place November 20-22 in Atlanta, GA. Registration is now open. Get your tickets here.

National Volunteer Week is April 15–21, 2018.

Through the help of volunteers, Greenbuild/ABX 2017 was able to achieve a diversion rate 90.5% at the convention center.Powered by Points of Light, National Volunteer Week, is an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to come together to tackle tough challenges, and build stronger, more resilient communities.

Greenbuild takes this opportunity to thank our wonderful Volunteers, who were critical in helping us reach a waste diversion rate of 90.5% at Greenbuild/ABX 2017 in Boston, Mass.

The USGBC Massachusetts Chapter and Host Committee focused efforts on waste diversion education. The Host Committee helped to create training materials for volunteers regarding proper waste disposal. In turn, the volunteers helped exhibitors and attendees properly dispose of waste. These volunteers were well-versed on not only the event itself, but with local and federal waste guidelines and end of life processing and reuse options for many of the materials that are found at Greenbuild/ABX.

Through the help of waste volunteers, Greenbuild/ABX 2017 was able to achieve a diversion rate 90.5% at the convention center. The highest diversion rate of any Greenbuild and most likely one of the best diversion rates of any large expo in the United States!

This was one of the cool takeaways from the Greenbuild/ABX 2017 Sustainability Report. Read the whole report here.