Leading the way

Features - Cover Story

Broad Run Recycling is standing out as a leader in the nation’s capital, where green building is flourishing.

July 10, 2012

Broad Run Recycling LLC, based in Manassas, Va., is conveniently located just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., where green building movements such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) are going strong.

Washington D.C. leads the nation in the amount building space certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED rating system. Its mayor, Vincent Gray also is committed to sustainability. He recently launched Sustainable DC, an initiative aimed at making the nation’s capital the “healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States.”

For Kevin Herb, the emergence of green building as well as rising disposal costs meant a potential business opportunity. He was already the president and CEO of a hauling company, Industrial Disposal Services (IDS).

“I started IDS in 2002 and about four years into it, I was spending $1.8 million a year throwing stuff away in a landfill.”

Herb began scouting out land that would house his hauling company and allow for the addition of a C&D recycling facility as an alternative to the landfill. He finally found a piece of property in Prince William County, Va., to develop. He also began touring C&D processing facilities and systems throughout the U.S.

“After that, I selected a builder along with the equipment manufacturer Sparta Innovations (Notre Dame, New Brunswick, Canada) and started the process of the design and build with everyone closely working together,” recalls Herb.

IDS was the first business to be built on the new site. Employees moved to the property in May 2007. It is a 5,000-square-foot building made up of 2,500 square feet of office space and two truck bays. Broad Run Recycling’s 26,000 square-foot facility was built at the same location. It opened for business in January 2008 with Herb as managing partner along with Andrew Aman and Eric Nelson.

Herb describes operations being hectic at first. By the time things started smoothing out in the summer and fall of 2008, Herb says, “The economic tsunami hit us. The whole world came to an end and commodity values just absolutely plummeted.”

Having a business tied to construction didn’t help matters either. “It was a struggle for the first three years,” Herb says.

Turning Tide

Now business is booming at Broad Run Recycling. Herb says 2011 was a good year for the company and 2012 is turning out to be its best year ever.

“It was a long road to get here for multiple reasons, but we are finally here to appreciate what the plan was four years ago,” Herb says.

Broad Run specializes in recycling wood, aggregate, metal, cardboard and dirt. Herb says the company has focused on those materials because they can all be sold to back-end markets and they are inexpensive to separate and ship. The company recycled 43,579 total tons of material between March 2011 and February 2012 (See sidebar “Breaking it Down” on page 26).

In the past year, Broad Run Recycling has recycled 17, 647 tons of material for biomass fuel in Waste-to-Energy (WTE) plants. The company also is working on converting those residues into a higher-value fuel source such as diesel fuel, bio-char or ethanol.

A ‘Capital’ Investment
Broad Run Recycling and IDS began servicing Washington, D.C. in 2011. The sustainability initiatives that the nation’s capital is embracing have boosted the number of construction and demolition projects that are making an effort to recycle there. “D.C. wants to be the greenest of the green. We are positioned well to help all those general contractors meet their green, LEED requirements,” says Herb.

Through an agreement with Waste Management (WM), IDS is able to hold C&D material at WM’s transfer station in Washington. Waste Management in turn uses Broad Run’s facility to recycle its C&D material.

“It’s a nice cooperative agreement between the two of us so that both of us are benefiting from it,” says Herb.

Broad Run claims a 95 percent recycling rate at its facility and is the first C&D recycling facility to have that percentage audited and validated by the Institute for Certification of Sustainable Recyclers (ICSR). This certification is an important achievement for Herb, as he wants to prove Broad Run is really recycling at the level it says (see the bar “Backing up Claims” below).

As LEED projects continue to create business for C&D recyclers, Herb has concerns about false reporting. He points out that agencies like the USGBC aren’t policing whether a facility is actually recycling at the level it is claiming. He hopes certifications like the one ICSR provides will help put an end to this problem.

Backing Up Claims

Broad Run Recycling LLC not only claims it recycles 95 percent of the material it processes, it has a piece of paper to prove it. The Manassas, Va.-based mixed C&D recycling facility has obtained certification from the Institute for Certification of Sustainable Recyclers (ICSR), making it the first facility to receive the certification.

In a letter to Kevin Herb, managing partner, Broad Run Recycling LLC dated June 7, 2012, ICSR Executive Director JW Spear wrote, “To the best of my knowledge, Broad Run Recycling LLC is the first ever C&D recycling facility to achieve Institute certification and the first ever to receive certification by an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) compliant, third-party certification agency.”

Spear says Broad Run’s well-kept records helped in the evaluation process.

“Broad Run turned out to be a text book case,” says Spear. “Their data was in order and readily cross referenceable.”

Herb says there is a need for the certification within the C&D recycling industry.

“I recognized when we opened in January 2008 that this industry was in its infancy and that we needed to bring in some accountability,” he says. “Way too many of our competitors were just throwing numbers out there on spreadsheets without the required investment in separation equipment, facilities and employees.

Herb says he hopes that by receiving the certification, it will help bring credibility and accountability to the C&D recycling industry. “The industry, general contractors, local governments and developers need and want it,” he says.

Spear will give a presentation during the C&D Recycling Forum, Sept. 23-25 in Long Beach, Calif., about the ICSR certification. Information also is available at www.recyclingcertification.org.



The author is managing editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be reached at ksmith@gie.net.