Treated wood can't be recycled, for example, so it must be separated at the jobsite. Salvage yards may share the revenue from scrap metal and even forego collection and pull charges (this varies by region and market conditions).

For the past decade, Tallahassee has used the Tampa-based consulting firm Kessler Consulting Inc. to streamline its solid waste operations. It was a natural next step to ask Kessler to help demolish a building. The firm's services included:

  • Retaining a demolition contractor. Bids ranged from $32,500 to $100,000. The lowest bidder won because it felt expectations were reasonable and wanted to learn more about the growing market for salvaging and recycling construction-and-demolition debris.
  • Identifying non-recyclable materials. In addition to treated wood, insulation couldn't be recycled and went to the local landfill. Local debris-disposal facility Crowder Excavating and Land Clearing Inc. took other non-recyclable material, such as plastic.
  • Identifying suppliers that recycle. Armstrong Ceiling Systems recycled 2734 lbs. of ceiling tile. A local metal processor, ACE Salvage, took 7 tons of scrap metal. Untreated wood was mulched at the landfill.
  • Helping to write specifications. The carpet installer recycled 1202 lbs. of carpet and padding and was required to replace it with carpet that has 20% recycled content and a minimum of 10% “rapidly renewable” material (i.e., made from plant, animal, or marine sources with shorter harvesting times than wood or steel).
  • Identifying reusable materials. Crew lockers, untreated scrap lumber, bathroom mirrors, lights, furniture, an electrical panel box, and some doors and windows are being reused in the new building or sold by a local salvage store.

In all, the city recycled more than 75% of debris.

Next month, Solid Waste Services employees will move into offices that use less water (thanks to low-flow toilets and waterless urinals) and energy (through room motion sensors and low-voltage lighting control) than their former office building.

In addition to capital-improvement funds, the $1.8 million project was paid for by an $80,000 “Innovative Grant” from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a $15,000 grant from the Sumter County Florida Organics Recycling Center for Excellence. Visit www.talgov.com for more information

Read the other articles in our special "Green Matters" report:

  • Auditors Welcome: shows how auditing a department's facilities can provide a step-by-step plan for using less electricity and water.
  • Trickle-Down Effect: A story from Chicago shows how one of the nation's largest cities reduced storm-water runoff in its alleys by using specially designed pervious pavement.
  • Low-Impact Leader: our Q&A with Seattle's low-impact development program manager will give you ideas on how to incorporate their trail-blazing solutions into your own plans.
  • Resource List: A list of useful links for organizations and associations that can help you make you're department more sustainable, and planet-friendly.