Demolition Meets Recycling Goals

The largest building ever to be built at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, began with demolition of an arena, field house and theater in June 2009 and continued with demolition of a student center by the end of March 2010.

In 2007, the University began a capital campaign to raise $500 million to build a student center, a recreation complex and a parking facility. Currently, about $400 million has been raised, including the largest single donation from a former trustee, Lee Anderson, and his wife, Penny, which will fund the construction of Anderson Athletic and Rec Complex, Anderson Student Center, and a surface parking lot.

Opus Northwest Construction serves as the designer in addition to construction manager and general contractor. Jeff Mertens, project manager, said Opus uses the design-build approach and will hire about 50 subcontractors from demolition to finish work.

"We're managing not only the time and bids for contractors and materials, but also managing the design," he notes. "It's helpful to have in-house design with architects and structural engineers working on the drawings to work together as a team."

The athletic and rec complex began to be built in June 2009. Simultaneously, demolition continued on O'Shaughnessy Hall, a four-story building built in 1939, which is partly on the site of the athletic and rec complex and the new student center.

Preparing for demolition

Demolition contractor Carl Bolander & Sons, St. Paul, began separating materials at O'Shaughnessy Hall to comply with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health regulations.

"A lot of materials were taken out and separated prior to demolition and were hauled away for recycling or to landfills," said Andy Ristrom, company spokesperson. "Our goal is to recycle 85 percent of the building materials, and we are close to the goal. Our crews removed and saved some of the historic stone that the university wants to reuse.

"Crews also removed the regulated waste and asbestos on the interior before we started demolition. That includes bulbs, ballasts, oil-containing material, Freon, and asbestos. We also worked with the asbestos contractor to remove asbestos that was found below the slab using a method that will still allow the slab to be recycled.

"Then, we began wrecking the four-story building with our 100-ton Link-Belt crane. Many steel beams slowed the crane operations and required us to back away the crane and attack the steel with excavator mounted shears," said Ristrom.

Remove and separate materials

Bolander crews used its Caterpillar 330 and 350 excavators and a 966 wheel loader to constantly move and separate materials into piles away from the building and working crane.

Ristrom emphasized that materials must be separated during the demolition process for easier recycling and landfill diversion. "The earlier in the operations we start separating, the easier we achieve high recycling yields. Some materials can't be recycled and have to go to a landfill, such as tangled carpet, wood, plastic and some small wires; we pull out the major copper, steel, concrete and stone that can be recycled or reused. Most of the concrete will go to Bolander's crushing facility a few miles from the University; some may be reused on the same project and some on other projects.

"We have other jobs in the area that require crushed gravel and we also sell material to other construction companies," he adds. "SKB Environmental/SKB Recycling will further sort and recycle some materials and will record and certify our total recycling and waste diversion totals to make sure we meet our goals and receive LEED credits for this project."

Carl Bolander & Sons completed demolition before the end of March, ahead of the set schedule. Mertens said, "Once we demolish O'Shaughnessy Hall, we can finish the interior of the athletic and rec complex by mid-August and will start the student center project in May."

Buildings' styles and spaces

The current student center was expanded in the 1990s doubling its space. Now, more space and up-to-date food services areas are required. "The new building will have a cafeteria, three food service areas, multi-purpose room, school store, recreation space, meeting rooms, and offices for student organizations."

The new buildings will be gothic-style architecture with sloped, tiled roofs and stone exterior to match other campus buildings, explained Mertens. The inside is determined by the programs in each building and the exterior follows set rules that the university wanted. "The Heritage Preservation Commission in St. Paul also is looking at the buildings because the buildings are in the historic district along Summit Avenue," he said.

To meet silver LEED certification, Mertens said the overall plan is to reuse a majority of demolished materials that are being recycled, reduce impervious surfaces, create more green space with less surface parking, use highly-insulated exterior wall and roofing systems, install energy efficient mechanical systems and provide lighting controls.

"We're controlling the stormwater runoff to some storage and infiltration beds underground that will collect the rainwater. We're not reusing the rainwater; we're filtering it, storing it, and controlling the rate of runoff so it doesn't cause disruption down to the water plant.

"We're going to use a lot of landscaping material that won't require a lot of irrigation and maximizing the grass area," said Mertens.

The Anderson Parking Facility, a 724-car ramp, opened last February. The Anderson Athletic and Rec Complex will open in August 2010, and the new student center, at 210,000-square-feet, will be building a foundation and shell after demolition. It will open in 2012.