Campus News

Bowdoin to Recycle a House

Story posted April 19, 2002

A "green demolition" at Bowdoin this month will ensure that the debris from a building removal will be recycled rather than hauled to the local landfill.

On April 29 and 30, the house at 6 South Street will be torn down to make room for a new Children's Center to be built between May and October. Ordinarily, construction and demolition (C&D) debris is disposed of at a landfill. But Bowdoin College is working with ERRCO of Epping, N.H., a state-of-the-art recycling plant, to ensure that most of the materials will be recycled.

Bowdoin has been making a concerted effort to "green" the campus. The Sustainable Bowdoin office, established in 2001, has been concentrating on issues such as integrated waste management, energy conservation, purchasing, and alternative transportation in hopes of reducing Bowdoin's impact on the environment. Imagine the amount of debris being kept out of the local landfill through the recycling of an entire house.

Having learned about ERRCO at a recent presentation, Bowdoin director of facilities management Bill Gardiner investigated the facility further with the help of his staff. Impressed with what ERRCO can accomplish through recycling, and with the demolition of 6 South Street on the horizon, it seems the timing could not have been better.

ERRCO uses the latest processing technologies to provide a clean, environmentally acceptable separation of C&D waste and to recover the usable portion for resale. With a house demolition, they are able to sort wood, brick, shingles, concrete, metals, wire and sheetrock. In general, an estimated 80-90% of construction and demolition debris is recyclable. ERRCO estimates that 97% of the Bowdoin building will be recyclable.

The facility processes the debris through crushing, shredding, chipping, water and magnetic separation, and screening. The resulting materials include woodchips used for fuel in wood-burning energy plants, aggregates for use as road base, and a dirt material that is used as landfill cover. These "recovered" materials are effective replacements for virgin materials used for the same purposes, thus helping to reduce consumption of our natural resources.

The cost of recycling the house is comparable to the cost of hauling the materials to the landfill and paying the associated fees. The environmental benefits, meanwhile, make the "savings" enormous.

For more information about the Sustainable Bowdoin office, go online to:

Visit ERRCO's Web site at:

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