Building demolition showcases Rockford’s recycling efforts


MMaking space for new buildings often involves demolishing old facilities. At Rockford Construction, we promote sustainability in all of our projects, and the recovery and recycling of building materials is an important aspect of building demolition.

When Rockford was selected to build Spectrum Health’s new Transformation and Innovation Center, plans called for the removal of a large industrial building on the site – the former home of Gill Industries.

The building had been refurbished and expanded several times since its origins as a stamping factory in the 1800s, but its history meant the construction team had unexpected surprises to discover as demolition progressed. .

At times during the demolition, crews found storm sewer pipes that had been abandoned, railroad tracks that had been paved over, and sturdy foundations buried in the ground that had been used to support huge stamping machines in brass.

All of these materials – concrete, structural steel, rebar and more – had to be removed to create site conditions conducive to the construction of the new office building. A massive undertaking was required to dig huge sections of foundation out of the ground, some measuring up to 40 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 8 feet deep (think three city buses side by side).

Rockford Project Superintendent Zach Butler said removing parts to prepare for crushing required the largest excavator available in Michigan to be able to pick up parts that would be broken by other heavy machinery.

“We had anticipated that around 10,000 tonnes of crushed concrete would come from the site we knew, and we had planned to use that to balance the site and create a laydown area for building materials, but we ended up with a lot more to recycle and reuse,” Butler said.

Butler said that once the first tons were removed and the steel removed, the Rockford team found the crushed product to be of high quality, meeting and exceeding test specifications for compaction and density.

“We brought in third-party testing to ensure the quality of the product, and it came back with flying colors, so we were fine with reusing the concrete on the project for the foundation supports and footings,” Butler said.

When all the underground concrete was removed from the site, around 20,000 tonnes – roughly the weight of two Eiffel Towers – were crushed and reused instead of being trucked to a landfill.

The Rockford project team also helped manage the recycling of approximately 1,250 tons of steel and over 2,000 fluorescent light bulbs. Overall, more than 94% of the existing building could be recycled, reused and repurposed.

“It took more work, but it saves money on trucking, offloading costs, saves material to bring to site and it’s great for the environment,” said Butler. “The ability to reuse such a portion of an old building is a great achievement for Rockford’s focus on sustainability. »

Crushed concrete will be used on site to stabilize and provide a solid, compacted base for the footings and foundations of the new building and parking ramps. Excess crushed material will be sold to other businesses that need it, helping to reduce trucking emissions that would result from transporting material from out-of-town crushing plants.

“This is one of the cleanest construction projects I’ve ever seen,” Butler said.


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