Construction Site Reduces Waste, One Dumpster at a Time

📅   Wed July 19, 2017 - West Edition
Allie Gross


Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Teton Area is partnering with Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling to pioneer a zero-waste construction model. The goal is to work with builders to get as close to zero waste as possible.
Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Teton Area is partnering with Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling to pioneer a zero-waste construction model. The goal is to work with builders to get as close to zero waste as possible.

Zero waste is the goal for Habitat for Humanity's construction site for phase 3 of The Grove in Teton County, Wyo.

There are seven recycling dumpsters at the build site — a bin for wood, metal, cardboard, concrete, household recycling, compost and mixed waste.

Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Teton Area is partnering with Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling to pioneer a zero-waste construction model. The goal is to work with builders to get as close to zero waste as possible.

“We needed a guinea pig,” said Mari Allan Hanna, outreach coordinator for Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling. “We needed a place to demonstrate the good, the bad and the ugly of this, and partner with an organization that was willing to make mistakes, willing to fail, willing to pay attention to the measurements and the monitoring, and have that dialogue with us.”

It's part of Teton County's 2014 “Road to Zero Waste” initiative, which committed the county to diverting 60 percent of Jackson Hole's waste from the landfill by 2030 (see page 30A). The county is now at 37 or 38 percent diverted.

Why the focus on construction?

“The stuff is heavy, and we gauge our progress toward zero waste by pounds and tons,” Hanna said. “The other reason we target construction and demolition is because it's so reusable. Things like metal, they never deteriorate, and they can be reused and recycled over and over again. To landfill materials like that is really like throwing money into the ground.”

A third of most municipalities' waste is from construction and demolition, she said. In this context “zero waste” means 90 percent of materials are recycled.

Elizabeth Ferguson, Habitat's outreach coordinator, said the nonprofit asked the recycling agency how Habitat could contribute to its efforts.

“We live in this beautiful place; we should be environmentally focused,” Ferguson said.

Habitat broke ground on eight Category-1 affordable homes at The Grove in mid-June, marking the start of phase 3 of the affordable housing project on the corner of Scott Lane and Snow King Avenue.

“I think that being the experiment, we're figuring out how we can make this easier and more available,” Ferguson said. “We're going to make it very smooth for other construction companies to pick this up and do what's responsible.”

Being the guinea pig means solving problems as they arise. For instance: Seven dumpsters is a lot.

“The space required for all those different dumpsters was a challenge at this commercial building site,” Hanna said. “Right off the bat, one of the conclusions we're able to draw is we need to offer different sizes of bins.”

County commissioners approved a $4,240 grant last week for the zero-waste project.

Solid Waste and Recycling plans to hold a workshop with companies in the construction, waste, hauling and architecture industries to share notes. Hanna said several have expressed interest.

“This is such a milestone for us in sort of digging into what does the Road to Zero Waste really look like,” Hanna said. “This is when we're exposing the large challenges and beginning to tackle them.”

Source: Jackson Hole News and Guide