Experts help reduce demolition debris in landfills


by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

Posted on May 21, 2014 at 7:09 PM

HOUSTON -- There is no lack of destruction for new construction here in Houston, and in the past much of that debris has headed to the landfill.

"About 40 percent of all landfill space is construction and demolition debris," said Richard Johnson, a sustainability expert at Rice University,

Not from the latest building project downtown.

If you take a good look at the former Houston Club building as it is being prepared for demolition, you will see first it is being stripped, window by window, and brick by brick.

The thought of building-sized recycling is a nice idea, but has the folks who walk by every day skeptical, "Realistically? Ten percent or less," said one pedestrian passing by downtown.

The developer of the planned Capitol tower is thinking bigger and not just for the building.

"Our company goal by 2015 is to divert 95 percent of demolition waste from landfills," said Michael Mair, regional director for Skanska Commercial Development in Houston.

It sounds crazy but experts say possible.

“We have places that are going to take the concrete the cardboard the steel and the plastic. We've got it all here," said Johnson.

Houston is actually a global leader in reuse.

"The concrete is all reused here. We just re-crush it and it becomes the next street or even building," said Johnson.

"Steel as you know and copper is very valuable and it worth taking to recycling centers so there is a business case behind it also," said Mair.

Materials from inside the Houston Club were even auctioned to the highest bidder.

The building will be imploded near the end of summer of 2014, and then the pile will be stripped too.

"People are looking for clean modern healthy and places to connect. What Skanska sees is being on the leading edge of that," said Mair.

Green from the end to the beginning, and beyond.