The home building industry has taken slow but sure steps towards more responsible building thanks to programs such as LEED for Homes and the NAHB’s Green Building program. Though the installation may be ‘greener’ these days, has the waste stream kept pace? We sat down with Miriam Zimms, LEED AP and Project Manager for waste stream service and consulting firm Kessler Consulting, Inc. to talk about the company’s approach to helping the building industry take the green approach over the landfill.
K&A: Describe the Kessler process – how does the company get involved with the construction industry?
MZ: It can work two ways. We work with local governments throughout Florida and the Southeast who are targeting the construction sector, the generators of C&D debris materials, to increase recycling in their communities. We work in partnership with or for the jurisdiction to target and develop comprehensive program plans for waste prevention targeting the construction community. Second, we work with members of the construction industry. Larger builders who operate in multiple counties may contact us to help them develop a comprehensive C&D recycling plan to comply with the varying requirements of local governments in their market area.
K&A: How does the process vary by region?
MZ: Regions vary in the level of disposal tip fees, the development of local markets for recyclable C&D materials, public recycling goals, recycling technical support to the construction community; all of which have significant influence on C&D recycling rates. Also, state and local government goals for C&D recycling differ by region. Jurisdictions across the nation are adopting a variety of approaches to achieve their C&D recycling goals, including legislation, market incentives, and education and outreach programs.

The Sarasota County pilot program provided participating builders five means of support:

  • A tip fee differential/rebate for source separation of materials
  • Job-site staff support
  • Education and outreach program
  • A database tool to track and measure progress
  • Model/case study – peer to peer promotion

Zimms says the biggest challenge to the success of a builder’s recycling program was top-down buy-in into the comprehensive program along with the need for an active construction site superintendent to roll-out the C&D recycling program to contractors. The site supervisors ensure all employees are properly following the waste procedure to account for all recycled-content materials, renewable materials, and certified wood products. Builders also faced contamination and illegal dumping, particularly in the early stages of construction. Proper signage and worker education work to minimize these challenges.