A set of brick buildings once stood just west of Strong Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department, but today that area is a flat, empty space. The buzz of demolition activity is full steam ahead.
Excavators roar, moving heavy piles of old building fragments, scrap metal and concrete to make way for a new and improved ED building. The takedown of the structures that began in March was swift. But have you ever wondered where all of that debris goes?
Thanks to a joint effort by the University of Rochester and Turner Pike Construction, the vast majority of waste produced by this large-scale takedown is being recycled and diverted away from landfill. When you picture hundreds of tons of waste, this is nothing short of remarkable.
“The methodical demolition is quite meticulous,” said Robert Maloney, project coordinator for the University's Department of Planning & Project Management. “Each wire, pipe and conduit had to be carefully removed.”
After waste is divided into piles, a large magnet passes over them to remove any remaining metal. Out of 340 tons of construction waste, 301 tons (just over 88 percent) has been recycled to date. Much more material is expected to follow suit as work continues.
At the beginning of the year, the project team aimed to divert at least 50 percent of construction and demolition waste—things like concrete, steel, copper, and wood.
Materials that are not recycled include asbestos-containing material (all of which was removed six months ago, before demolition began), some plastics and other scraps that can’t be reused. Concrete is ground down to pebble size material and used to make roads, or even things like pavers sold in home and garden stores. Steel is recycled in the scrap metal market. Much of our non-recyclable material goes to High Acres Landfill in Perinton.
Transformers that were once used in the now-gone transformer building were shipped, fully intact, overseas where they will be used in India. This is another example of how project leaders are being intentional in their efforts to avoid waste.
This cleanup comes before the digging of the building foundation, which will be followed by mass excavation later this year. Since this is the University’s largest project ever—Maloney says this is a good opportunity to prioritize what’s important.
“This is good for all of us,” said Maloney. "It means some cost reduction, but we’re also trying to build in a smart and sustainable way for future generations.”