Demolition Crew Weaves Through Oaks on Jekyll Island

Fri August 01, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Matthew Willett




When CST Environmental Inc. of Orlando, Fla., began demo work last November at the Buccaneer Beach Resort on Jekyll Island, management knew it would be a challenge.

They didn’t know it would come out so near to a clean sweep.

Southeast Region Vice President and Branch Manager John Jenkins said the company completed work at the hotel that reclaimed almost 95 percent of the material on site for recycling, meeting a LEEDs standard that usually comes in at a fraction of that rate.

More importantly to the area’s residents and the property owners, however, was the environmental accommodation CST’s top operators offered when they completed the job leaving 367 mature oak trees unscathed.

“We had to peel up the asphalt and watch the root line under the asphalt,” Jenkins said. “We had to do a lot by hand, and our operators had to be some of the best we’ve got.”

The seven-building resort included hotel facilities totaling 140,000 sq. ft. (13,006 sq m) and a 102,000-sq.-ft. (9,476 sq m) restaurant facility. The CMU construction included slabs at both ground level and on upper levels.

“It was a resort that had about 370,000 square feet of buildings and the hotel at the tallest portion was about six stories,” Jenkins said. “It was concrete and a little bit of asbestos, but the biggest trouble with the job was all the oak trees. We had to protect every single oak tree on the property and there was an enforcement specialist watching us every day along the way to make sure we were not hitting the roots.”

The island’s stately oaks provide visitors with an unmatched vision of coastal gentility. Their preservation was paramount.

“We had to take the building down in such a manner as to not obstruct the drip line under the trees or any branches that were overhanging,” Jenkins said. “We couldn’t just rip and skip and blow, we had to take a little more care and have a spotter out there making sure we were not hitting stuff.”

Even with a spotter, operating a Caterpillar 345 excavator in tight conditions without damaging shallow roots can be a challenge for even the most experienced operators, Jenkins said. It was a challenge CST rose to, he said, and even went beyond.

“We started the first week of November and finished before Christmas,” he said. “It only took six weeks. Our corporate office gave us some of the best operators and they just blew through it.”

Jenkins said CST also employed subcontractors for trucking and a Cat 973 track loader with a four-in-one bucket to complete the job quickly. CST owns its equipment, he said, and performs all its own maintenance. On this job, he said, nothing more unusual than a broken tooth or two slowed down the work.

When it was over, CST had removed more than 25,000 sq. yd. (21,000 sq m) of concrete and 3,452 sq. yd. (2,900 sq m) of asphalt, all of it bound for reuse. Merritt Trucking of Fitzgerald, Ga., and Gramling Brothers Contracting of North Carolina were among the subcontractors tasked with removal. Moving such a high rate of recyclables, however, was unique to the Jekyll job, Jenkins said.

“We did a 12-story building in Gulfport, Miss., an implosion job at an armed forces retirement home that was hit by Hurricane Katrina, and that job met a 75 percent recycling rate, but we had a shorter schedule and couldn’t go in and gut it first to separate the trash,” Jenkins said. “Jekyll is probably the biggest recycling job we’ve done to date, nearly 95 percent. I think we even recycled some of the wood partitions. We got almost everything that was recyclable out of this project.”

Jenkins noted that reclamation jobs can be a good business strategy for demo companies.

“We try to recycle as much as we can. If you can separate the trash from the concrete it can be very important to your bottom line. In Florida, you can almost depend on there being a company that will purchase the concrete from you. It’s definitely increasing. For the company as a whole 20 to 25 percent of our jobs have LEEDs requirements.”

LEEDs, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, are administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization. CEG