To hear that construction unemployment is at its lowest rate since September 2000, on the surface seems like good news, but a low unemployment rate for the construction industry tells a different story, one of fewer skilled workers available to employ.
In just the last three years, Recycling Today Editor Brian Taylor and I have penned at least half a dozen Editor’s Focuses in this magazine dedicated to the issue of the skilled labor shortage in the construction and the related industry of demolition.
There is a reason this topic has taken up so much ink. Covering this subject in the magazine is certainly helping to spread awareness about this issue, but more needs to be done.
The number of unemployed jobseekers in the construction industry is the lowest it has been in 15 years, or 5.5 percent, while at the same time, growth in construction spending was at a nine-year high in August, with a 13.7 percent growth over the same month in 2015.
Officials with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Arlington, Virginia, cautioned that this most recent hiring slowdown most likely reflects a lack of available workers that could lead to project delays unless more students and workers join the construction sector.
Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist, says, “Growth in the construction workforce has been slowing throughout 2015, just at the time that construction spending has accelerated to a multiyear high. Contractors would love to hire more workers but there aren’t enough qualified craft workers or supervisors available.”
Simonson’s take is concerning. “The most likely explanation for these divergent trends is that the pool of unemployed workers with construction experience has evaporated. Overwhelmingly, contractors say they are having trouble finding workers to fill a variety of craft and supervisory positions.” (Eighty-six percent of firms polled by the AGC in September said they had difficulty filling hourly craft or salaried positions.)
This worker shortage is a problem that cannot be ignored with the hopes that the situation will get better. While the written word can be an effective motivator, the situation cannot improve without programs to encourage careers in construction and demolition fields. Those who own construction firms, those who develop curriculums and those who work in the industry all can encourage the pursuit of a career in the various construction trades.
I am certain this will not be the last time that this Editor’s Focus talks about the importance of attracting the younger generations and more women to the construction industry, but I hope it will cause those in the industry to ask how they can do a better job at promoting their industry to ensure the high-quality construction and demolition work that the U.S. is known for globally will continue in the future.
The bigger the better, and in the case of Champion Waste & Recycling Services’ first single-stream construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facility the company recently opened in Texas, that is a lesson now learned. Champion’s new Town & Country Environmental Services (T&CE) opened in early summer 2015. T&CE Vice President Paul Kuhar says not only has business flourished, it has opened new avenues of opportunity.
“We have been operating only a few months and it went from zero to 60, which has been incredible,” Kuhar says.
There is so much incoming material, he says, that the dual-line system could be replaced with a three- or four-line system to handle the C&D loads. The company has already identified more commodities that require additional bunkers, according to Kuhar.
“Where we’ve been really surprised is there is so much material that I would make our next system much larger. There’s so much opportunity sometimes it makes me speechless,” Kuhar says.
The company’s C&D material recovery facility (MRF) has outpaced daily incoming loads in such a fashion that Kuhar has had to add equipment as the days go on. A new horizontal baler will permit workers to pick an additional line as material drops off into a baler. A Rotochopper wood grinder was recently delivered to process various grades of wood for multiple products. And several pieces of auxiliary equipment, transfer trailers and roll-off trucks have been making their way into the Celina, Texas, facility.
While this is the first C&D MRF Champion has opened, Kuhar assures his company will have additional facilities coming online in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area. Champion also runs a commercial recycling MRF and provides recycling containers for permanent, temporary and special event use. The next facility and system, he confirms, will be much larger in size.
Kuhar says, “The program has been a huge success, and with the No. 2 C&D MRF in the talks, it will be much larger [so as] to divert and recycle the various construction waste streams we have already identified from our C&D MRF.
“By the third one,” he continues, “it will be perfect.”
Kuhar says Champion settled in North Texas to open the area’s first C&D MRF as there are numerous large-scale and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects occurring daily. “Our goal was to finally provide a recycling solution to the Dallas-Fort Worth construction industry to divert and recycle construction materials,” Kuhar says.
These types of projects, and the overall positive construction industry in The Lone Star State have contributed to T&CE’s busy workdays.
“Construction is booming,” he says. “In Texas alone, there is tremendous amount of growth here in the construction sector.”
T&CE is seeing the effects of new construction in its operations. Kuhar says incoming loads are mostly all new construction materials. The volume of demolition is lower considering the amount of new construction going on, he says.
In addition to the material that comes from TC&E roll-off containers and trucks, the public and third-party vendors drop off material loads to the facility. When collected material arrives at T&CE, trucks are weighed on an inbound scale (there also is an outbound scale). The scales are equipped to properly log percentages for specific materials so as to calculate loads for LEED diversion reports. Trucks then pull onto the tipping floor and dump materials. Using a Volvo 120 wheel loader, material is pushed into piles while a Volvo excavator with a grapple bucket loads material to the primary Finger-Screen manufactured by General Kinematics (GK), Crystal Lake, Illinois, which pioneered the application of vibratory separation and helped T&CE design its C&D MRF line, Kuhar says.
With the initial sort based on size, the Finger-Screen makes a 6.5-inch cut on the primary material, which heads to the A-Line. Cardboard, metal, Grade A and Grade B wood, sheetrock, large concrete and plastics Nos. 1-7 are picked. Smaller items fall below to a 90-degree conveyor, hitting the cross-belt magnet, pulling metal and materials sized from 2.5 inches to 6.5 inches. Smaller materials continue on for further screening on a 2.5-inch-minus Finger-Screen, which creates either fines or alternate daily cover (ADC) fluff.
The remaining material on the B-Line is 2.5 to 6.5 inches. Concrete and brick travel down the conveyor belt and into a dual-knife GK De-Stoner air classifier. The last bit of material is considered refuse-derived fuel (RDF). T&CE is working with sources on its end product for RDF and ADC fines.
Kuhar says each customer has requested a different specification, which is another unique aspect of T&CE. The company is able to offer a customized approach for each individual. It is a high level of service, Kuhar recognizes.
“We’ve explained to people when we partner with them that we can make the ingredients for the recipe,” Kuhar says. “The biggest benefit is we can give an end user or potential buyer of a finished product exactly the spec that they want. We have that flexibility.”
He continues, “People may have been skeptical about C&D recycling [in Texas]. Now that the system has been running a short time, people see the opportunities we’ve created for them.”
Going above and beyond
Champion Waste & Recycling Services started in the Dallas-Fort Worth area nearly 15 years ago, with two new trucks, 20 containers and zero customers. President Michelle Kuhar and husband Paul Kuhar credit their experience to Michelle’s parents, Frank and Carol Giannattasio, who have been serving the waste and recycling industry since the early 1970s, owning and operating various companies from the East Coast to the Southwest U.S.
To continue developing his industry knowledge and to enhance his education, Paul Kuhar has pursued industry certifications, specifically those with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a certification program through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Washington.
Kuhar and his associates are LEED Green Associates. According to the USGBC, a LEED Green Associate demonstrates a solid, current understanding of green building principles and practices. A LEED professional credential signi?es that the person is a leader in the ?eld and an active participant in the green building movement, USGBC says.
In February 2016, Kuhar says he is scheduled to earn his LEED Accredited Professional (AP) credentials, which affirms advanced knowledge in specialized areas of green building, expertise in a particular LEED rating system and competency in the certification process, according to USGBC. It is suited for practitioners actively working on LEED projects to showcase their deep technical knowledge of LEED in both principle and practice.
“It’s just doing those things that are above and beyond what everyone else is doing,” Kuhar says.
As he prepared to open Town & Country Environmental Services (T&CE), Champion’s new construction and demolition (C&D) material recovery facility (MRF), Kuhar says he traveled to various recyclers’ facilities to learn the best practices for opening such an operation. He describes how Tallahassee, Florida-based Marpan’s Kim Williams and Davie, Florida-based Sun Recycling’s Paul Valenti had “wise words” and offered their facilities for a tour to Kuhar.
“My family has been in the business for a very long time,” Kuhar says.
He adds, “The investment we made is a big investment and you want to make sure when you’re going to do it that you’ve got all of the information.”
Gladly going green
For contractors building new and pursuing LEED, Kuhar says Champion shared the frustration experienced with builders prior to T&CE’s opening. With source separation, cross contamination always was an issue. Haulers would lose entire loads (and therefore LEED credits) due to contamination.
Kuhar explains, “We did some LEED projects that were prior to this system source separated and we saw that frustration. And it was frustrating for us as a hauler because you’d see other nonconforming materials in the source-separated containers.”
Thanks to word of mouth and awareness, companies that had not considered themselves “green” are today reaching out T&CE to pursue LEED certification and become a more sustainable company, Kuhar says.
He describes, “With LEED jobs, I have more construction sites today that are non-LEED that are using our program than actual LEED jobs. Why are they doing that? Because their company culture is to recycle and work with a company that sees sustainability as the future.”
Kuhar notes how a number of Texas construction companies are using T&CE’s role of recycling C&D debris as bragging rights.”
He explains that T&CE offers the “simplicity of recycling” without contractors having to worry about separating materials. They can instead focus on building, as materials are tossed into the same containers at the job site. “Leave the sorting to T&CE,” Kuhar says he tells customers.
Kuhar says, “People who weren’t big recyclers have told us, ‘We’re not a big green company, but you’re allowing us to become green because we don’t have to work at it.’”
Small contract cleanup companies that once sent all collected materials to landfill have since started using the facliity to promote the recycling program to new home builders. T&CE has teamed up with one large home builder to make the vision of being green a reality.
Materials on the move
Champion Waste & Recycling Services has been running a commercial material recovery facility (MRF) for years, which has brought in collected loads of old corrugated containers (OCC), paper, plastics Nos. 1-7, aluminum and glass. The company opened its first single-stream construction and demolition (C&D) MRF in Celina, Texas, in summer 2015. Town & Country Environmental Services (T&CE) accepts some of the same materials as the company’s commercial MRF. As a C&D MRF, incoming materials do vary as loads of concrete, brick and sheetrock make their way to T&CE’s conveyor belts. The materials accepted at T&CE and its end uses are:
- Wood – ground, used as playground material, mulch, an additive in composting, boiler fuel and as a component of solidification of liquid waste in landfills
- Metal – melted and recycled into new steel by end user
- Cardboard – baled and recycled into new old corrugated containers (OCC) by a Pratt Industries facility
- Plastics – baled and exported to China, some reground domestically for new products • Concrete – used for road base
- Brick – recrushed and sold as a low-class road base
- Sheetrock – used for a soil amendment
T&CE Vice President Paul Kuhar says he sees the C&D MRF as “the ingredient maker for the bakery. It’s really what we do.”
While T&CE has end markets for all of its materials, Kuhar says this is just the beginning.
“I truly believe we’ve just scratched the surface of all of the avenues we could pursue,” Kuhar says.
Kuhar points to a ripple effect that has occurred since T&CE’s opening: The company was invited to bid on “a very large facility” and after landing that job, he says business for the single-stream C&D MRF “has really just taken off.”
T&CE has since sent containers to Liberty Mutual Insurance, which announced in early 2015 that it plans to open a new campus in Plano, Texas. The nation’s third largest insurer expects to hire 5,000 workers for the North Texas location by the end of 2017.
“We get a couple of calls every day that say, ‘We’re building in this city and the city said we need to recycle and told me about your facility,’” Kuhar says.
Much of Kuhar’s time since opening T&CE has been spent educating Texans that such a facility exists.
While El Paso Construction and Demolition Recycling has been running a full scale C&D MRF since 2007, according to President Sean Gillespie, Kuhar says T&CE is the only C&D MRF in North Texas and surrounding areas.
Kuhar adds, “We really only just scratched the surface. As a huge welcome reception this has been, true waste diversion and recycling have only begun.”
One opportunity has derived from the material seen most in C&D debris loads and at T&CE: ground wood. For one customer who used to purchase Class A wood from a generator, he has since learned that T&CE provides a steady flow of material. Kuhar says, “He came to my facility and saw the pile of beautiful Class A wood and asked, ‘You sorted that out of all of that mixed material?’ and I replied, ‘Yes, we do.’”
He adds, “When you go to the tipping floor, the pile is integrated with sheetrock, Class A and Class B wood, concrete, etc., and it’s unbelievable it came in looking one way and we were able to extract it another way and divert all that material that was previously entering landfill.”
Kuhar concludes, “Our main focus is to divert, recycle and recover C&D material from entering a landfill.”
The author is associate editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be reached at email@example.com.
Recycled road material is nothing new. In Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has implemented a number of processes that utilize recycled materials such as glass and crumb rubber. These measures reduce costs, conserve natural materials, and as demonstrated the material that follows, spur local business.
Beginning February 2014, TDOT officially authorized the use of asphalt roofing shingles as a supplemental material for recycled asphalt road mixes. Brian Egan, then the director of the department’s construction division, sent out the provided the approval to allow roofing shingles in recycled asphalt pavement mixes.
Asphalt shingle recycling reduces quarrying, mining and oil consumption while keeping 75 million tons of material out of landfills each year. Recycling asphalt also dramatically reduces the consumption of resources such as fuel, machinery, transportation and labor.
This change in the TDOT rules offered a tremendous opportunity for several entrepreneurs in the recycling business, as well as creating a few challenges. The first challenge was identifying shingles to recycle. Keith Street, Putnam County solid waste director, decided to work with any and all area recyclers to ensure a steady supply of feedstock. County officials decided Putnam County would become the first county in the state to divert all asphalt roofing shingles from the landfill to a beneficial end-use. “With our construction and demolition landfill getting more full all the time, we were tickled to death to save all that space,” says Street.
Seizing the opportunity
Ground Up Recycling, a start-up company in Cookeville, Tennessee, was the first recycler in Putnam County to take advantage of the opportunity. The company, owned by Matt Allen and Lincoln Young, took full advantage of the opportunity and soon faced the second challenge: how to make the shingles “road-ready” in an economic and efficient way. Luckily, Allen already had extensive experience in the industry as a result of working in road construction most of his life.
The answer to the second challenge was a custom modified Peterson 4710 grinder, which is portable and crushes and screens the shingle material into a uniform size usable in almost any asphalt manufacturing plant.
Allen and Young also were faced with the third challenge: understanding the complexity of the regulatory environment for a new industry. “This was our biggest hurdle,” Allen says, “since we were a new type of business. We soon became the first shingle recovery company to be in full compliance with all of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Department of Transportation regulations.”
Recovery and reuse of asphalt shingles extends the life of any landfill and lowers costs for roads by not using virgin materials. State Rep. Ryan Williams, R, Cookeville, says, “Tennessee needs our good roads, so we need to save money for those roads any way we can.”
Seeing the benefits and the emerging industry, Mac Nolen, solid waste director for Rutherford County, soon followed suit and Rutherford County became the second county in Tennessee to have 100-percent diversion of asphalt shingles from the landfill. State Rep. Mike Sparks, R, Smyrna, who represents part of Rutherford County, says, “I was on the county commission for eight years, so I know a bit about landfill issues. This is a smart option for Rutherford County and for Tennessee.”
Making a difference
The public-private partnership has made a difference in the amount of shingles recycled, but Ground Up Recycling also has established a business connection, which has made a significant impact. Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt LLC, Toledo, Ohio, was the first roofing manufacturer to create a process that increases shingle recycling and material reuse across the U.S. It is continually connecting roofing contractors with shingle recycling facilities throughout the country. Contractors can even take the Shingle Recycling Pledge to be marketed as an Owens Corning Preferred Contractor.
The amount of asphalt shingles that impact Tennessee’s landscape is quite staggering. Asphalt Shingle Recycling Systems, another innovative business seeking to use asphalt shingles as primary feedstock, was instrumental in removing nearly 30,000 tons of shingles from two illegal dump sites in Knoxville, Tennessee. The magnitude and innovation of the project caught the attention of Mark Braswell, regional director for external affairs for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) in the Johnson City environmental field office.
“It’s refreshing to see traditional waste products recognized as valuable resources when they are recycled and beneficially reused,” says Braswell. “Asphalt Shingle Recycling Systems demonstrated superior work in the materials management category and should be recognized as true stewards for the environment.”
Currently, only 5 percent of any recycled asphalt mixture is allowed to be from shingle material, but that is still a 5 percent savings of material costs. For some asphalt producers in other states this has equated to just over $15 per ton or nearly $500,000 annually, according to a recycled-content analysis from Asphalt Shingle Recycling Systems partner Alan Clarke.
In addition to the cost savings, finding a beneficial use for a waste product saves resources. For example, a typical residential roof provides enough recycled asphalt to pave a 200-foot section of one lane of highway. That one household of shingles takes four barrels of unrefined oil to produce. Landfills nationwide receive enough shingles in a year to amount to 14 million barrels of oil.
According to Larry Christley of Solid Waste Management Division for the TDEC, several studies were conducted by Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University in 2007 and 2008. The studies estimated that approximately 12 percent of Tennessee’s construction & demolition (C&D) waste stream is asphalt roofing, equating to 171,000 tons. About 65,500 tons are disposed of in Class I landfills while the remaining 105,500 tons go to Class III landfills. Because Class III landfills usually have lower tipping fees than Class I and often charge per cubic yard rather than ton, Class III landfills are the preferred option for disposers of shingles due to the high density of the shingles.
The number of shingles that are being landfilled is decreasing, thanks to the new TDOT regulations. TDOT and TDEC are working in tandem with permitted asphalt recyclers in Tennessee to develop new and improved source collections sites, partnerships with local municipalities, landfills and community leadership to encourage responsible recycling.
Vaughn Cassidy is with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Office of Sustainable Practices.
Demolition is demanding. The working conditions can be dangerous and trying, not only for operators, but also equipment. Deconstructing buildings, bridges and other structures successfully—and safely—means coming prepared with the best toolkit possible, regardless of machine size.
When it comes to demolition equipment, most people probably think of the big guys — namely high-reach excavators, rugged articulated haulers and fully guarded excavators with demolition attachments. But compact machines also play a vital role on the site. They are the first ones in for interior stripping and the last to leave during final cleanup. Skid steer loaders, mini excavators and compact wheel loaders offer unparalleled agility and the ability to work in confined spaces. However, they must be outfitted properly to meet the tough demands of demolition work; an off-the-shelf machine simply doesn’t cut it.
When configured with demolition-specific attachments, safety features and guarding packages, compact equipment becomes a safe and productive member of your demolition fleet. Here are four essential considerations to ensure your compact equipment survives the rigors of demolition.
1. Look for enhanced safety features. Demolition sites can be unpredictable. Though fully controlling a machine’s surroundings is impossible, taking preventive measures and utilizing equipment with built-in safety precautions can help maintain a safe work environment and ensure uninterrupted work.
Key to safety is ensuring operators have clear visibility, not just in front, but also to the sides and rear. When evaluating a machine, one of the first things to address is visibility within the cab. Features such as a single-loader-arm design offer the operator excellent visibility that improves safety on hazardous sites. It’s also essential to evaluate the cab entry points. Enhanced side-entry doors reduce the dangers that come with climbing over attachments.
Should a hazard arise, it’s crucial that compact equipment have a means to quickly remedy the situation. In the case of fire, an on-machine extinguisher is vital to swiftly squash what could quickly become a dangerous blaze. Some larger loaders even come with full fire suppression systems in situations where risk of fire is heightened—such as conducting work around slag, timber or at paper mills. Similarly, the option for a full battery shutdown with the use of a main battery disconnect switch could be important in these hazardous situations.
Compact equipment often offers this option on the outside of the cab, while larger loaders can be equipped with in-cab disconnect switches. Collectively, these precautions and design features are the best ways to shore up safety hazards.
2. Select a rugged guarding package. While off-highway equipment is built for rugged and trying work, demolition pushes these machines to their limits. As walls fall and concrete cracks, added protection comes in handy to extend the lifespan of a machine and its components. Guarding packages are a collection of nonstandard guards built to equipment specifications. These components protect machines’ vulnerable areas and operators’ environments to ensure maximum uptime.
When selecting a guarding package for demolition, it is important to consider the type of work that will be done by the specific machine. A skid steer loader used for hauling over debris piles might need rear hood protection to prevent engine cover damage while unloading, or a radiator grill guard to protect cooling components during loading. On the flipside, a wheel loader used for teardown could benefit from window, windshield and light guards. However, all machines in demolition could benefit from certain guarding products. Examples include an axle seal guard to prevent material from wrapping around the axle during operation as well as a falling object protective system (FOPS) roof guard (level 2 minimum) that protect the cab from falling objects.
Tires are subject to a lot of abuse in demolition, and it’s essential that compact equipment be outfitted with non-pneumatic tires — either solid or solid flex — to eliminate the risk of punctures and flats caused by running over rebar or other sharp materials.
It also is important to consider the quality of the guarding packages used. Many heavy equipment manufacturers offer these as aftermarket options. If a guarding package is needed, selecting compact equipment that can be factory-equipped with a package engineered by those who designed the machine will ensure the best fit, and thus, the best protection.
3. Choose attachments that pack power. In the Wild West, cowboys knew better than to bring a knife to a gun fight. The same goes for a machine on a demolition site. With a flexible, universal hydraulic attachment bracket, a skid steer loader or compact wheel loader is the Swiss army knife of your demolition toolkit. Using the correct attachment that packs the necessary power is a must.
For teardown and demolition, hammers and shears are key for bringing down walls and removing concrete. These high-powered tools get the job done quickly and safely. Using an inadequate attachment for demo work—such as using a shovel built for working in soft materials to demo concrete—can be unsafe and push the machine beyond its limits. Doing so too often can decrease the lifespan of a machine and increase the chance of an accident. For material handling once the teardown has occurred, scrap handling buckets and grapples are useful for clearing the job site.
4. Conduct regular preventive maintenance. Machinery is put through the ringer on demolition job sites. The rigorous work can take a toll on machinery, thus regular and preventive service is a crucial part of ownership. Selecting a machine with features for simple service access, such as a forward-tilting cab and a large rear compartment door, means carrying out this service will be more efficient and effective. Additionally, with in-cab machine information, operators and fleet managers can closely monitor each machine’s hours and better plan for routine service. Should issues arise, these systems can also help alert operators to the problem before it becomes worse and more costly to fix.
From machine selection and environmental precautions, to service and guarding package, and attachment selection, the toolkit assembled for demolition jobs can mean the difference between a profitable enterprise and a drain to the bottom line.
Kevin Scotese is product manager, skid steer loaders, Volvo Construction Equipment, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.
While San Francisco’s Candlestick Park may be no longer, Candlestick Point, the land for which the stadium got its name, is still there and is getting a major makeover. Miami-based developer Lennar Urban has plans to convert Candlestick Point adjacent Hunters Point Shipyard into 700 acres of mixed-use buildings, shopping centers and much-needed housing. But before stores and houses could go up, the stadium, which housed thousands of San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants fans over the years, had to come down.
Demolishing Candlestick Park proved to be a unique challenge for Oakland, California’s Silverado Contractors Inc. due to its sheer size, reinforced-concrete wind baffle and thick concrete walls — all features that contributed to the massive responsibilities it once held. Candlestick Park stadium opened as a ballpark in 1960 after the New York Giants moved to San Francisco, and it was converted into a football stadium during the 1970s. The stadium housed nearly 70,000 fans during a big game, prevented gusts of wind from blowing field goals and extra points astray, and withstood years of earthquakes, including one measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale in 1989.
It was a 132-foot-tall, 630,000-square-foot layer cake of about 96,000 tons of reinforced concrete and steel. The original plan detailed imploding the stadium; however, the developer and Silverado had to consider the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s dust exposure requirements and noise concerns from the surrounding neighborhood. That changed the plan, and using excavators fitted with hydraulic attachments became the best solution.
“We’ve done some selective demolition of other stadiums in the past, but this is the first time we’ve ever demolished an entire stadium,” says Andrew Baird, Silverado Contractors project manager.
The demolition contractor based in Oakland, California—just across San Francisco Bay—tackles a wide range of projects, from selective demolition to complete building and bridge removal, primarily on the West Coast.
“Taking down the structure piece by piece, one section at a time was the only way we could ensure the safety of crews during demolition while minimizing dust,” Baird says. It also was a rare opportunity not many contractors get to experience—the complete demolition of a stadium, which hasn’t occurred on the West Coast since Seattle’s Kingdome demolition about 15 years ago.
Tackling the project
But in November 2014, the memory of that project would take a back seat to what was in store for the Candlestick Park stadium. Silverado began the demolition of the stadium by stripping out all 68,500 seats and performing hazardous material abatement, a feat that took several months.
By February 2015, Silverado was ready for the next phase of the project: demolition. About 30 laborers stripped and gutted all nonrecycleable debris from concession stands, bathrooms and luxury suites. When spring came it was time to bring out the heavy hitters: a team of Silverado equipment operators and several hydraulic attachments, including Atlas Copco breakers. They were ready to face heavy demolition, starting with the stadium’s main structure.
“It’s a fairly challenging project because it’s such a big structure and very different from a typical building,” Baird says. “But after reviewing structural elevations and breaking into it, you realize it’s like any other building, just on a much larger scale.”
Before the hard-hitting demolition could begin, Silverado had to ensure everything was in position. Operators using an excavator fitted with a hydraulic shear attachment cut out the steel retractable bleachers, giving the crew access to the field for sorting rubble.
Cutting through the steel sections was considerably faster than breaking through a concrete area. It meant they could get onto the field and in position faster, which is why it was a good starting point for Silverado’s crew.
Once the crew was in formation, it was time to tackle the stadium’s concrete wind baffle and upper deck as well as its lower reserved seating and boxes. The team of operators used a wide range of equipment and attachments, including aerial lifts, excavators, hydraulic breaker attachments, shears and water sprayers. The play: demolish from top to bottom and clockwise from the stadium’s southwest corner.
Up to bat
“We chose Atlas Copco breakers because they’re a proven product, are simple to maintain and have fantastic hitting power,” says Sean Holifield, Silverado Contractors operations manager.
Excavators fitted with Atlas Copco HB 2500 and HB 5800 breaker attachments smashed reinforced concrete walls, while another excavator with a hydraulic shear attachment cut rebar and steel supports as they emerged from the crumbling concrete.
“We used those breakers nearly all day, every day and with minimal downtime,” Holifield says.
Both breakers feature Atlas Copco’s ContiLube II lubrication system, which automatically greased wear bushings to minimize wear and virtually eliminate downtime from manual greasing.
“Productivity is critical in this industry,” says Dana Creekmore, Atlas Copco regional channel manager, west. “And much of that productivity boils down to your equipment, from using breakers that require minimal maintenance to simply having the right attachment for the job.”
The threat of downtime was minimized, but the risk of dust was an ongoing concern, particularly on one of the highest points of the project—the wind baffle.
“It sat about 120 feet off the ground, and it could have been quite a logistical challenge to get the breakers in there as well as water to suppress the dust at the right points,” Holifield says. “It would have been fast and easy to knock it down with a ball and crane, but the amount of dust and debris would have been a huge concern.”
Manually spraying water on the points of impact and debris drop zones would be nearly impossible with a wrecking ball because of its inaccuracy. Using handheld breakers would have been more precise, but put operators in harm’s way. The stadium’s walls were as thick as 18 inches and needed heavy-hitting power to come down.
“Dust control was a major concern not only on the wind baffle, but nearly the entire project. And we had to tackle it on two fronts—at the point where we were breaking material and where it hit the ground,” Baird says.
Silverado attached spray nozzles to the excavators, which automatically released water to control dust at the tip of the breaker. This ensured excavator operators had a clear view of the work and eliminated the need for manual dust control, which meant crews could remain a safe distance away from any falling debris. Silverado also had operators controlling nozzles on aerial lifts that were set farther back than the excavator, spraying the point where debris hit the ground.
For the wind baffle, Silverado called in its high-reach, 76-ton excavator and Atlas Copco’s HB 2500 hydraulic breaker. The excavator’s boom could reach as high as 130 feet, putting the baffle within the breaker’s striking distance and the operator out of range of falling debris. Outside the stadium, the operator pushed the breaker’s chisel against the baffle’s curved concrete wall and perforated it. With an impact rate of 580 blows per minute, it didn’t take long to knock out chunks of concrete and rebar, causing the baffle to sag then collapse onto the upper deck.
“Without the breaker attachment, we would have had a real difficult time breaking down that wind baffle while suppressing dust. It would be nearly impossible to get the same control with a ball-and-crane,” Baird says.
While work was going on above, an operator using another 76-ton excavator and Atlas Copco’s HB 5800 breaker delivered as many as 480 blows per minute to tackle the thick reinforced concrete walls below. They teamed with another excavator operator who was using shears to take out lower seating sections, which also were made of reinforced concrete.
“Watching the large breaker work in conjunction with the shear attachment is fairly amazing because what they accomplish together is much more than what any one machine can do on its own,” Baird says.
The breaker smashed through external concrete walls and pillars, while the other excavator reached in with its shears and removed the mangled pieces of rebar and steel sheets from the upper deck area.
“Not only was it less hassle to have two excavators, but it also was more efficient,” Baird says.
Because each excavator was equipped with its own attachment—one for breaking and one for cutting—the crew didn’t have to stop and switch attachments. They demolished the area from the baffle’s peak to the last row, one section at a time, in just hours.
As each section came down, another crew moved in to sort rubble. They used an excavator with a bucket to separate twisted rebar from the concrete, and they stockpiled it on-site before crushing it for backfill on the new site or recycling for road building. The crew also sorted and shipped stockpiled rebar and nonferrous metal for recycling. In all, about 98 percent of the rubble from the stadium was recycled.
“This project required a lot of teamwork at every level to allow our highly skilled operators to succeed,” Holifield says. “From our superintendent, Oscar Reyes, overseeing our entire workforce, Andrew Baird coordinating them and their equipment, and the reliable customer support from Atlas Copco’s Dana Creekmore, it ensured that we were always pushing forward.”
Before finishing demolition in late August, Silverado’s crew continued to rely on Atlas Copco breaker attachments to demolish the remaining concrete slabs. They even brought in reinforcements—the HB 4700 and HB 3100 breakers.
It’s true with football and sometimes it’s true with stadiums: what goes up, must come down. And oftentimes, including the Candlestick Park stadium demolition, gravity is the enemy—from kicking up dust as debris hits the ground to eliminating a fast and easy way to demolish, such as imploding.
But there’s always a victor who masters the challenge. Just like a winning drive that scores a touchdown, Silverado Contractors ran a flawless offense against dust generation and downtime, which ultimately won them the game of safe and efficient demolition.
This article was submitted on behalf of Atlas Copco, based in Stockholm, Sweden. More information is available at www.atlascopco.us.