Campus & Community

Harvard projects reuse, recycle

2 min read

Construction projects achieve high recycling percentage

Harvard waste management officials are holding up four construction projects at the University this summer as examples of recycling successes, with nearly all construction debris, furniture, and equipment recycled or reused.
Facilities Maintenance Operations’ Supervisor of Waste Management Robert Gogan said the projects represent about half of the construction taking place at the University this summer and achieved recycling rates of 93 percent and higher. The July rate at the 46 Blackstone St. renovation was more than 99 percent.

“This includes asphalt, bricks, concrete, lumber, gypsum drywall, doors, windows, flooring, whatever happens to be in [the waste stream],” Gogan said.

Though the construction industry has always practiced a certain amount of recycling, Gogan said that the current push to achieve national green building standards has increased the emphasis on recycling and reusing as much as possible. As of early August, the projects had reclaimed 1,841 tons of debris, an amount equal to 93 percent of all refuse. Together with the Institution Recycling Network, the University found several nonprofit organizations that could benefit from furniture and equipment that could be reused, including the Cambridge Community Center and Food for the Poor.

The construction recycling success was echoed more broadly across the University in July, when the Harvard-wide recycling rate reached a record 46 percent.

The Dunster-Mather dining hall renovation donated the old kitchen equipment such as stoves, refrigerators, vent hoods, steamers, and other kinds of equipment.

“Reuse is always better than recycling,” Gogan said. “There’s a lot of embedded resources in manufactured products. If you can take a finished product and reuse it for its original purpose, you’ve saved not only money, but a huge amount of environmental impact.”

Late last week, Harvard Dining Services officials hosted a grand reopening of the Dunster-Mather dining hall, serving lunch for administrators and current and former kitchen staff. Dining Services’ Director of Facilities and Physical Plant Robert Leandro walked visitors through the new facility, pointing out not only food service additions, such as salad and deli bars, but also newly installed equipment meant to make the operation greener.