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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 19, 2001

Demolished resort on Kaua'i largely recycled

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

PO'IPï, Kaua'i — The new Waiohai resort will be built on top of the old one, quite literally.

Builders say 95 percent of the material from the demolished Waiohai Hotel will be diverted from the county landfill. All the concrete is being ground up and used as fill under the new buildings and roadways.

Jan TenBruggencate • The Honolulu Advertiser

In a growing trend in the construction industry statewide, builders are finding that it makes good economic sense to recycle as much of a demolition project as possible — even to the point of grinding up old concrete buildings and using the material as the foundation of the new structure.

At the Waiohai, Unlimited Construction Services found it possible to recycle 95 percent of the four-story concrete hotel and save money as well as the wear and tear on equipment.

"We knew it could be done, but it took a lot of legwork to make it happen," said Peter Robson, Unlimited's president. Now, on a similar job, he's convinced he'd do it no other way.

Other contractors say the same thing and, increasingly, there are incentives to do so. Some military contracts require it as a result of Executive Order 13101, which is subtitled "Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling and Federal Acquisition."

When Marine Corps Base Hawai'i recently renovated its bachelor enlisted quarters, it donated old furniture to charities, recycled the metals and used old concrete as fill. Even contaminated concrete was recycled as a cover material in its landfill.

Island Demo was able to recycle or salvage 53 percent of the material in its Victoria Ward Center project, where it demolished seven buildings.

The company saved 185 tons of concrete, recycled 468 tons of metals and salvaged 83 tons of other materials.

"The military, when they did the Pearl Harbor housing near Moanalua, ground up the concrete and reused it," said Genevieve Salmonson, director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. "It's wonderful. All the counties are facing landfill problems. We should really encourage this."

One of the factors driving the recycling is the increasing cost of landfilling. Both county and private landfills have charged "tipping" fees for dumping commercial debris — and those costs can add up.

At the Waiohai on Kaua'i, the tipping fee is $60 per ton. The old Waiohai had an estimated 60,000 tons of debris. If all of it had been delivered to the landfill, it would have cost $3.6 million.

"It's something that's becoming more and more common practice. People are realizing that it just makes sense," said Gail Suzuki Jones, materials exchange specialist with the Clean Hawai'i Center at the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

A major nonfinancial bonus is the impact on the neighborhood. If a builder needn't carry thousands of tons of material to the landfill, and then bring in thousands of tons of other material for fill, that eliminates the necessity of a lot of heavy trucks rumbling through the streets.

"We eliminated something like 100 trucks a day tearing up roads and driving through the neighborhood," said Rob Centra, project manager for Marriott's Waiohai Development Office.

For the Waiohai, the recycling program started with a concern by the Kaua'i County Planning Department about the island's fast-filling Kekaha Landfill. They asked representatives of Marriott Vacation Club how much recycling could be accomplished.

Marriott had bought the hotel, which was closed since Hurricane 'Iniki in 1992, and plans to build 231 time-share units and seven hotel rooms. For the recycling estimate, consultant Gregg Kamm suggested 70 percent.

"Basically, I pulled that number out of the air," he said. The Kaua'i Planning Commission held Marriott to it.

Unlimited worked with demolition expert Richard Lee, a subcontractor who has specialized in recycling at construction sites. They found they were able to do far better than promised.

"A bunch of stuff was given away," Robson said. Nonprofits and community groups were allowed, before demolition began, to remove doors and other furnishings that might have value.

A landscaping firm removed 75 trees from the site, and temporarily replanted them on a vacant spot across Po'ipu Beach Road, for eventual replanting on the site. They also scraped off about 1,500 cubic yards of sand and topsoil and stockpiled it.

Wood shingles on the hotel roof were removed and ground up for compost. The gypsum board, commonly known as drywall, was ground up and will be used as a soil amendment in landscaping applications.

The contractor broke down the hotel's concrete walls, and smashed them to remove the reinforcing iron. It, along with structural steel and other metal, was sold for recycling and shipped off the island. It didn't make the project any money, "but it pays for itself to get it off the island," Robson said.

The remaining huge piles of blocks of concrete and concrete pilings were ground up in a special machine that has water jets to keep dust under control. The result is a material with pieces

3 inches across and smaller, with a lot of gravel and fine material mixed in.

"Our engineers say it makes an excellent foundation material" and it is all being used for the foundations of new buildings and roadways, Centra said.

Of the 60,000 tons of debris produced by the demolition, Robson estimated that no more than 3,000 tons will end up at the landfill. Much of that is unrecyclable old carpet, foam pads and treated lumber, he said.

In all, recycling instead of dumping the materials resulted in a potential saving of 20 to 30 percent of the demolition cost, Robson said.

Kaua'i Mayor Maryanne Kusaka hopes similar recycling levels can be achieved when the Coco Palms Hotel, another hurricane casualty, is rebuilt.

"We all win. It's a win-win situation," Kusaka said.

You can reach Jan TenBruggencate at (808) 245-3074 or jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.