On-Site Magazine

Taking the LEED in landfill diversion

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April 1, 2012 by Andrew Snook

As the pressure to reduce waste on the jobsite steadily increases, contractors are turning to sorting and recycling facilities to achieve more sustainable building practices, and help building owners collect LEED points.

Also known as construction waste management credits, these LEED points are based on a number of criteria.

Jenie Yao, LEED technical coordinator for the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in Vancouver, B.C., says the CaGBC looks at the project’s recycling rates, salvage rates and waybills and performs calculations based on the amount of waste diverted from landfills compared to the amount of waste generated on-site.

She says project teams would get all the waybills and information from the construction and demolition (C+D) facilities and keep track of it using LEED letter templates where all the information is tabulated.

“What we usually like to get are verification records—like waste haul receipts, waste management reports and spreadsheets,” Yao explains.

For new construction, companies can obtain one point for diverting 50 per cent of its waste from landfills and two points for a 75 per cent waste diversion rate.

Companies can sometimes earn a third LEED point if they have a waste diversion rate of 95 per cent or higher for exemplary performance in the innovation and design category.

“With the attention on waste you just can’t send it to a hole in the ground anymore,” says Shawn Vanderheyden, manager of sustainable construction at the PCL Family of Companies and chair of the Greater Toronto Chapter of Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). He says hitting a 95 per cent waste diversion rate is within the realm of possibility.

“These 50 and 75 per cent rates in most markets are quite readily achievable and through the best practices we perform… we’re upwards of 85 per cent and getting close to 90 per cent, and that’s without introducing major initiatives.”

PCL have worked on a wide variety of LEED projects across Canada; including the Durham Courthouse in Oshawa, Ont.—the first LEED Gold certified courthouse in Ontario, the LEED Platinum-certified Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, B.C. and the Manitoba Hydro office building in downtown Winnipeg, Man., which is in the process of obtaining LEED Platinum certification.

“[LEED] gives us the exposure to show our expertise. It puts a measure of quality on the projects we deliver in the marketplace,” says Vanderheyden.

Yao says the rating system for new construction has gone through three different iterations, so there’s a little bit of difference in the requirements for obtaining LEED points, depending on when a project was registered. For example, in the NC rating system Version 1.0 that came out in 2004, land-clearing debris could be diverted, but in the LEED Canada NC 2009 rating system, land-clearing debris and alternate daily cover cannot contribute to the diversion rate.

Vanderheyden recommends doing controlled waste sorting onsite, but says jobsites are often restricted due to area constraints, so waste from projects often ends up in mixed bins and PCL then relies on C+D sorting facilities to ensure they obtain high diversion rates.

“Certainly in Ontario and in the larger markets, the main categories of waste are readily recyclable,” he says. “Concrete, steel, wood, drywall and cardboard, those are the five main waste-producing volumes from projects and those markets are well established.”

The Springhill Landfill Site owned by the City of Ottawa and operated by Tomlinson Environmental Services (TES), is one of the facilities that offer those services. The landfill is located in the former Township of Osgoode, Ont. and is home to a C+D material recycling facility. Approximately 90 per cent of the waste is comprised of C+D waste.

The facility uses multiple sorting stations where it processes and recovers a variety of waste materials, including cardboard, whitewood, mixed wood, drywall, steel, brick, stone, dirt and topsoil. The whitewood is converted into bedding materials for animals and mulch, the mixed wood is converted into boiler fuel, the cardboard is collected and shipped to a recycling facility, drywall is sent to a recovery facility, steel is shipped to various steel companies and the crushed brick and stone are converted into road building material. The dirt and topsoil recovered is used on the landfill.

“You need six inches a day on the landfill,” explains Jason Wagner, site foreman at Springhill Landfill Site and C&D Facility. “We don’t use any other resources, we generate our own.”

Jason says the site has been able to divert between 61 and 81 per cent of all waste coming into the facility annually. Last year, the C+D plant processed 33,846 tonnes of construction and demolition waste and was able to recycle 22,505 tonnes, approximately 66 per cent of the waste.

Jason says wood has always been the site’s most common product, but demand for it being processed has increased in recent years. Terry Wagner, waste consultant for TES, says the diversion percentages for companies bringing in waste for LEED reporting are higher than the average diversion rate for loads coming into the landfill site.

“They want to hit 75 per cent on the waste diversion from the sites [to obtain two LEED points] and we can accommodate that,” he explains.

Terry says visual inspections are done, the loads are broken into percentages and the numbers are inputted into reports that are sent back to the companies showing what was recycled. He says the Springhill facility is the only one that performs this service in eastern Ontario.

TES is in the process of creating an App so they can send companies their information almost immediately. Terry says they hope to have it ready to go in the next six months.

Source separating in Steeltown

Another facility that performs similar operations opened up last April in Hamilton, Ont. called Countrywide Recycling Inc. This 60,000-sq. ft. indoor material recovery facility (MRF) specializes in the recycling of construction, renovation and demolition materials, and also offers LEED reporting services.

This location source separates wood, cardboard, plastics, metals, drywall, fines and aggregates across three sorting lines and is certified by the Ministry of the Environment to process upwards of 800 tonnes per day.

The clean wood is ground into two inches or less and is either sold to the wood pellet industry or is sold as boiler fuel/mulch. The fines can be used as alternative daily cover or roadway for landfills and the metals, plastics and cardboard (non-waxed) are sold.

John Voortman, general manager of Countrywide Recycling Inc., says for LEED projects, bins come into his facility already separated at the site, but they perform a visual breakdown for demolitions that come in that require LEED reporting.

“The information gets sent to engineers to fill out their paperwork for LEED certification,” explains Voortman.

He says many companies are interested in the types of services his company offers, even if they aren’t trying to obtain LEED certification.

“A lot of companies still want to know what the breakdown of their material is.”

In addition to a company obtaining more detailed information on its waste, it can also generate a little extra cash and save some space on the jobsite. Countrywide Recycling buys companies scrap metals—as long as they aren’t mixed with other waste—and offers a free cardboard drop-off area.

Going forward, Voortman would like to see government introduce a waste-to-energy facility to further increase landfill diversion and levies on tipping rates, to make businesses like Countrywide Recycling more profitable to operate.

“If the Government put a levie of say, $
10 or $15 per tonne on all tonnage coming from transfer stations or to landfills, then it would make recycling more affordable and diversion would go way up,” says Voortman. “Right now, with competing with landfill prices it is difficult to recycle and make any money. Raise the cost to landfill and there will be more places like Countrywide Recycling popping up.”

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