Austin Convention Center Expansion – Deconstruction Phase
The 1998 – 1999 deconstruction phase was the first step toward meeting Austin City Council Resolution 980430-48 for a sustainable Convention Center expansion. Six buildings were deconstructed and demolished in two square blocks of downtown Austin. The buildings included eighty-eight units of the Railyard Apartments, the Convention Center Welding and Maintenance Shop, the Austin File Room, the Bluebonnet Marketplace, and the Louis Shanks Warehouse. The accomplishments documented below were made possible by the early voluntary assistance and coordination between four City of Austin departments to adopt sustainability for this project. Project goals were simple and straightforward:
- Minimize landfilled materials
- Maximize salvaging and recycling of materials
A key aspect of this project’s success was the demolition contractor's willingness to work with the team and readily embrace the project goals. In addition, the contractor effectively utilized the detailed salvage opportunity inventories developed as part of the specifications and took advantage of a City-managed website designed to advertise materials for sale to the public.
Here are some examples of materials salvaged, recycled, or reused from the site:
- Over 52,000 bricks from the facades of the Bluebonnet Marketplace and the Austin File Room went to the general public for reuse as pavers for walkways and patios.
- Over 48,000 bricks from the Louis Shanks Warehouse were stripped of mortar, palletized, and sold for reuse
- A total of 1,480 doors of several varieties (metal, wood, wood/glass) were sold for reuse from the Bluebonnet Marketplace, Austin File Room, and the Railyard Apartments
- Eleven overhead doors on the Austin File Room, Bluebonnet Marketplace, and Louis Shanks Warehouse were sold for reuse
- Ninety-three percent of the structural lumber from the Louis Shanks Warehouse was deconstructed and sold
- The public dug up the plants and trees inside the Railyard Apartment Courtyards and took them for reuse
- Bike racks were sold for reuse
- Mailboxes, rolling electric gates, and an intercom system were all sold for reuse
- One hundred and four stainless steel kitchen and bar sinks were sold from the Railyard Apartments
- The majority of apartment appliances were sold for reuse: 88 stoves, 87 dishwashers, 80 range hoods, 80 garbage disposals, and 88 refrigerators
- Over 9,804 cubic yards of concrete rubble was crushed and used as fill material
- Eighty-six fireplaces and grates were sold for reuse
- Approximately 55% of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets were sold for reuse
- Twenty-nine spiral staircases were sold for reuse
- Over 211 tons of miscellaneous metals from the site were recycled through Commercial Metals - examples include fire sprinkler systems, conduit, HVAC ducting, railings, copper refrigerant lines, etc.
- Forty concrete wheel stops and parking lot bollards and wire were sold for reuse from the parking lot on the SE corner of the site
- More than 660 cubic yards of asphalt was diverted for use on haul roads
During 1998 – 1999, Earthly Ideas served as sustainability consultant and provided leadership for the cross-departmental team in its effort to minimize materials going to the landfill by recycling and salvaging during a deconstruction project. During the project design phase, we conducted walkthroughs of the buildings and inventoried materials to be salvaged, recycled, or diverted for use by demolition contractor. We wrote specifications to outline the procedures to salvage and recycle non-hazardous materials and to properly dispose of hazardous materials like PCBs, radioactive materials, mercury, CFCs, and lead paint. During the deconstruction and demolition phase, we provided on-site coordination with the demolition contractor and assisted with recordkeeping. We also assisted in the development of website for sale of salvaged materials. After completion of the project, we documented results for a City of Austin report to the City Manager and Sustainability Indicators Program’s website.