New Drywall Recycling Program Created for Construction of U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital

An estimated 30 billion square feet of gypsum wallboard is manufactured each year in North America. According to waste management specialists, approximately one pound of waste is generated for every square foot of construction area. That translates to about a ton of wasted scrap per home.

Now imagine how much scrap wallboard is created when building a seven-story, 235,000 square-foot hospital.

Veit Companies and Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (KA) have partnered to create a drywall recycling program for the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital construction project in Minneapolis. Using the new program, they'll be able to re-use gypsum and address the problem of getting rid of wasted scrap material.

Gypsum recycled from drywall can be used for fertilizing fields, but the recycling process requires separating the gypsum from the paper backing, which can be costly.

“A drywall recycling program isn’t readily available here in the Twin Cities and it took some hard work to find a gypsum processor that could handle the amount of drywall scraps that come from a seven-story-high construction project,” said Rachael Oelke, KA’s assistant project manager.

Veit’s Russ Reger was in charge of finding a suitable recycling outlet. He began working with Enviro-Services of Wisconsin, based in Menomonie, which grinds the drywall and applies the gypsum as soil amendment for fertilizer.

“People have been asking about drywall recycling ever since the LEED movement began,” said Reger. “California has been doing this for some time but it’s very new to this area. Amplatz is among the first few local projects using this process.”

To date, the Amplatz project has recycled 106 tons of gypsum during construction—material that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

The finished hospital will incorporate an environmentally sensitive design, eco- friendly materials and green spaces, including a vegetated roof and a heat-reflective, energy efficient thermoplastic polyolefin roofing system. Construction is expected to be finished by December 2010 and the hospital plans to open in March 2011.