Keeping valuable building materials out of landfill

Keeping valuable building materials out of landfill

Construction often results in large volumes of materials being wasted and sent to landfill. So, when Profile Group decided to build a new industrial premises, it set a goal to minimise waste from the project.

The solution

Profile Group is a family of businesses situated in the heart of the Waikato. It represents Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest integrated aluminium supply chain for window and door solutions.

It recently developed a new industrial park near Cambridge. The building is just under 49,000m2 which is about the size of four rugby fields. It includes a factory and three linked double-storey office buildings with landscaped spaces and pathways. From the outset the company was committed to a sustainable development that would achieve a 5 Green Star rating.

Green Star assesses the important elements of a project's sustainability across key categories. One of the criteria was to divert 90% of the construction waste from landfill. The project team, which included Fosters Construction and Jasmax Architects, came up with numerous ways to prevent waste being created in the first place.

For example, many aspects of the design were based on using standard sized building products, like roofing, to eliminate offcuts. Knowledge of what waste would be generated by materials coming to site allowed the project team to negotiate waste minimisation solutions with suppliers, like material take-back schemes.

When that wasn’t possible, the team researched other options. Using roofing as an example, they looked for ways to reuse the polystyrene packaging that was critical to its safe delivery to site. Advertised internally it was quickly snapped up by contractors for reuse as insulation or packaging for other products.

Jael Clausen, the Sustainability and Compliance Advisor for Fosters Construction, notes that “[polystyrene] is always treated as waste, but it’s actually a really valuable resource”.

With this in mind, other materials that would normally have been sent to landfill were kept onsite to be reused in the build. Concrete was crushed and used as a base for the driveway, while surplus new concrete was used for anchoring systems. Untreated timber crates were gifted to the carpentry arm of a not-for-profit community group in Kawhia.

It was important to sort materials into different bins on site so they could be reused and recycled easily. If materials were mixed with others there was a risk the whole lot would be sent to landfill. This was closely monitored by management with further education offered to contractors who were new to the system.

The project hit its target to divert 90% of the building waste from landfill. Jael is quick to point out that figure didn't include the amount of potential waste that was eliminated in the design and purchasing phases. It’s estimated the project created 1.3kg of waste per square metre. To put that into context, the average house build generates about 25kg per square metre.

Project: Profile Group Hautapu Facility
Owner: Appropriate Holdings Ltd
Collaborators: Profile Group, APL, Jasmax Architects, BCD Group Ltd, eCubed Building Workshop
Architect: Jasmax Architects
Main contractor: Fosters Construction Limited
Date of completion: December 2021

Mikayla Plaw, Executive Director and GM of Organisational Development and Sustainability – Profile Group

Mikayla Plaw, Executive Director and GM of Organisational Development and Sustainability – Profile Group

“Research before the design phase and collaboration throughout the project helped to save time, money and material.”