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Vermont Healthcare System Embraces 'Green Demolition' Ahead of New Bennington Project

Wed November 17, 2021 - Northeast Edition
Southwestern Vermont Health Care


A member of the Deconstruction Works crew carries lumber to stack for reuse outside the Lodge building on the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center campus in Bennington.
A member of the Deconstruction Works crew carries lumber to stack for reuse outside the Lodge building on the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center campus in Bennington.

Loads of insulation, doors, lighting fixtures, pressure treated lumber, wooden beams and an antique cast iron sink are among the items currently being harvested for reuse from The Lodge, a building on the Bennington campus of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC).

The building is slated for demolition in late November to make way for a $28 million renovation and expansion to SVMC's Emergency Department, according to a Nov. 12 news release from the healthcare system.

The salvage work is being done by Deconstruction Works, a demolition, salvage and recycling service based in West Dummerston, Vt. The business also has offices in Brattleboro and Bristol and is co-owned by Erich Kruger and Tom Shea.

Pushing much of the construction waste to reuse, rather than the landfill, helps the healthcare system meet the state's requirements for managing solid waste, as detailed in Vermont's Act 250 permit. It also helps mitigate the emotional impact of losing a piece of the system's history.

"This building has served an important purpose for almost 100 years," Ron Zimmerman, SVHC's director of engineering said in the SVHC release. "That so much of its materials will be reused and that items of historical significance will find new homes is gratifying."

James (Buzz) Surwilo, an environmental analyst with the Waste Management and Prevention Division of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources' Department of Environmental Conservation, was involved in developing the plan for managing the construction and demolition waste in accordance with the state's guidelines. He encourages companies to recycle, salvage and keep in mind ways that they can avoid creating unnecessary construction waste.

"We came up with a pretty unique, progressive, forward-thinking plan with the Lodge," Surwilo explained. "Kudos to the hospital for minimizing the environmental and cultural impacts and making a good faith effort to keep things out of the landfill."

The Lodge was originally built in 1925 with 22 rooms geared toward housing laundry and housekeeping employees. Most recently, it had been used as offices for SVHC's finance department.

Expansion, Modernization Ahead for ED

The new construction project will nearly double the size of the hospital's current emergency department (ED), which was designed to accommodate 14,000 patient visits a year but currently sees nearly 25,000 annually. The changes will further enhance patient safety, infection prevention, and patient privacy, the SVHC noted in its press release. Vertical treatment areas also will allow for highly efficient treatment of low-acuity conditions.

The expansion also will mean more room for the Emergency Crisis Area to treat those patients experiencing mental health distress, as well as increased telehealth connectivity with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in nearby Lebanon, N.H.

Outside the ED, the building effort includes renovations of the main entrance and café, outpatient registration area, the imaging department waiting area, and the phlebotomy and laboratory upgrades. An enclosed walkway will connect the ED to SVMC ExpressCare.

Temporary parking changes are in effect to make way for site preparation work. For instance, the first row of parking in the S2 lot has been predesignated for patient use. Regular updates on the project can be found on the health system's website at www.svhealthcare.org.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) provides care to the communities of Bennington and Windham counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts.




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