Friday, November 18, 2011

Converting Waste into Wealth in Georgia

Lookout West coast! Atlanta Georgia is making green waves in the salvaged materials market. This month’s newsletter from the USGBC Georgia chapter, highlights the recent deconstruction project spearheaded by the Lifecycle Building Center (LBC), a new non-profit based in Atlanta. Read more at

‘Lifecycle’ is one of those sustainability buzz words that can be applied to numerous aspects of the development industry like –costing or -assessment. In this case, we are talking about construction material lifecycles with the intention to extend them beyond one building. Why should we even try? Based on solid waste reports from the state of Georgia and a precedent setting major renovation project, Shannon Goodman, a major stakeholder in the LBC project, presents a staggering financial and environmental argument about what Atlanta can gain from the Lifecycle Building Center. Does two billion dollars in material cost savings sound attractive to anyone?

From my perspective as a LEED consultant and green building education provider, I am often challenged by my clients and students to interpret the LEED rating systems into terms easily understood by non-design professionals. Moreover, they want to know how to apply the strategies with local resources. The Lifecycle Building Center will help project teams earn three credits in the LEED-NCv2009 rating system, MRc2: Construction Waste Management, MRc3: Material Reuse, and MRc5: Regional Materials.

Because of the USGBC’s mission to transform the construction industry, it has become increasingly easier for most projects to successfully attempt and earn MRc2. Waste haulers quickly jumped on the bandwagon to provide these services that enhance their own profit bottom line. With a diligent superintendent and an extra dumpster for co-mingled debris, recycling of construction and demolition waste is becoming common practice on job sites all over the country. Just let your waste hauler know that you are pursuing LEED certification and educate the workers on appropriate materials to divert, including wood, gypsum, and concrete. With the addition of the Lifecycle Building Center, you can also keep lighting fixtures and casework out of landfills by donating it to the retail center.

It gets more difficult when you try to pursue MRc3 because there is no comprehensive strategy to sourcing reused materials, that is, until now. The Lifecycle Building Center wants to be your one-stop resource for C&D waste disposal, education, and salvaged material resources for purchase. Prior to this retail-model network for salvaged materials, designers had to rely on serendipity and wide networks to luck into the right relationships. The LBC intends to breakdown those barriers and afford all projects the opportunity to keep durable goods useful over longer lifecycles.