Despite the downturn, sustainability remains paramount and the winner this year is a company that has turned waste into a resource
- Birmingham Construction Partnership
This outfit was founded in 2004 to deliver Birmingham council's £500m capital building programme over the next seven years. So far, it has handed out projects worth more than £640m to partners in the housing, leisure, sports, schools and social care sectors. But more than that, it is delivering it in style. Waste has been turned from a cost into a resource: three waste management companies have been hired to sort and separate site waste, and if materials could be recycled or disposed of with minimal impact, this was encouraged. Another initiative was to produce a carbon measuring tool to help make informed decisions, and the council's partners, Thomas Vale, Tomlinson and Wates, were trained to make sure they knew exactly what was expected. The judges commented: “What it is doing is very practical and it has measured everything.”
This contractor was so pleased to win a place on last year's shortlist that it has made the elimination of waste part of its long-term business strategy. The result? A 24% reduction in waste from its London sites, and schemes that have achieved a 99% diversion of material to landfill. How did it do it? Partly through the just-in-time delivery of materials to reduce damage during storage, and off-site recycling facilities for cramped jobs. Then there was the creation of the post of waste manager to work with its supply chain and the far-sighted appointment of a sustainability manager. This resulted in suppliers holding “waste workshops” to help them generate no waste at all.
Sometimes statistics can actually tell the truth. For example, there's this one: in 2007/08 Sainsbury's recycled 80% of its construction waste on 90% of its projects. By 2012 it wants to recycle 90% of waste on 100% of its projects. It also made use of one of a supermarket's special weapons: the consolidation centre. This was used to cut vehicle movements by 88% for about a third of its projects in the south of England. This strategy was complemented by the use of off-site fabrication for eight projects and the use of suppliers that have environmental management system accreditation.
- Sir Robert McAlpine
This firm has kept it simple. It has made the target of halving waste sent to landfill one of its corporate objectives. A couple of years ago it diverted half of its construction, demolition and excavation waste. Last year that figure rose to 92%. One of the keys to achieving this result was a little forethought. So, a ski centre in Hemel Hempstead was redesigned to accommodate nearly all the excavated material. And on a schools project in Newcastle upon Tyne, all the materials from a demolition project were recycled or reused. Glazed bricks, for example, were employed to construct two areas at the nearby Beamish industrial museum.
- Wates Group
Slates and London stock bricks are valuable. So Wates demolished Woolwich civic centre in such a way that brick and slate pallets could be sold in reclamation yards. Timber, metal, parquet flooring and PVC was all reused, about 5,600 tonnes of concrete was turned into aggregate and employed on site and 350 tonnes of metal was reused off site. This kind of performance requires good relationships with waste companies and advisers, and Wates has built up a network skilled in finding new uses for old rubbish.
- Willmott Dixon
In the next three years, this contractor plans to become carbon neutral and send no waste at all to landfill. One powerful way of doing this is to publicly name and shame yourself: the transparent reporting of success or failure is a great motivator for managers. But, of course, it pays to tilt the playing field in the direction you're kicking, so Willmott Dixon compiles what it believes to be the most detailed site waste management plans in the industry. All waste leaving site is monitored, including that departing in mixed skips. So far, there's no doubt that it's delivering on its targets. The amount of construction waste diverted from landfill in 2007 was 60%. Last year that rose to 70%. And to ensure that it does indeed reach the 100% goal by 2012 it has a
- ppointed Jonathon Porritt, the eminent green campaigner, as non-executive director.
WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) works to encourage and enable both businesses and consumers to be more efficient in their use of materials and to recycle more things, more often.
In October 2008 WRAP launched the Construction Commitments: Halving Waste to Landfill – a voluntary agreement designed to assist the construction industry halve the amount of construction, demolition and excavation waste it sends to landfill each year by 2012. To date, more than 60 high profile organisations from across the supply chain have signed WRAP’s commitments.
We provide free practical advice and tools to help:
- reduce waste and costs;
- reuse recovered materials; and
- recycle more.
We are delighted to be sponsoring the WRAP Award for Sustainable Construction at the Building Awards for the third consecutive year.