Lees: Builders demanding eco-friendly demolition firms

B&B Demolition owner Bill Knight has spent $2 million to address environmental issues when buildings are torn down.

B&B Demolition owner Bill Knight has spent $2 million to address environmental issues when buildings are torn down.

EDMONTON – Bill Knight, owner of B&B Demolition, has invested $2 million in equipment to help satisfy the demand from building owners conscious of the environment.

“There’s no doubt being green helps promote business,” he says. “Owners, while they don’t receive financial benefit, are getting behind and driving green demolition.

“Once, when a structure was torn down, everything was thrown away. Now everything is separated and recycled. There’s only about 10-15 per cent of material we can’t do anything with.”

If there is one thing Knight doesn’t want, he says, it’s another year as hectic as 2012.

“In our first year, in 1999, we did $800,000 worth of business,” says Knight. “This year, we are on track for $12 million.

“We began our company with four labourers and a rented Bobcat working and working out of a 900-square-foot house. This year our team grew from 22 workers to 57. Office staff grew to 13 from six.

“We have been incredibly busy training teams. When you drive by one of Edmonton’s many construction sites, nine times out of 10, something had to be demolished first.”

Knight says his company will out-distance many local companies when it this month receives LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)

“Exams allow individuals to become accredited in how to implement practical and measurable green operations,” says Knight. “We are one of the few local companies to be certified. Eighty per cent of our jobs are now LEED jobs.”

The company, looking to expand to a 21,000-square-foot-facility, will this week take delivery of three Smart cars, to be used by estimators.

A bonus making work more efficient, says Knight, is the company now owns 20 dump trailers.

Having so many dump trailers on-site speeds up the separation of material for recycling.

Concrete goes to companies who crush it for road base; drywall goes to a transfer station, wood is sorted and reused as mulch; door, windows and other reusables go to companies who have a market for it.

Metal, copper, aluminum and steel are sorted and go to a recycling company.

“The company building the new Rexall drugstore at Westmount asked for 85-per cent recycling on demolition,” says Knight. “Most companies require 70 per cent. At Westmount we achieved 89 per cent.”

B&B’s latest “green” state-of-the-art buy is the Terminator, a battery-operated machine that quickly rips out carpet, tiles and hardwood.

“We bought three,” says Knight. “Other models were propane operated. But with batteries, we needed another machine ready to kick in when battery power died.

“We like to think of ourselves as leaders in the green field and have had the foresight to see what’s coming.”

What’s coming next?

“There will be a need for ‘green’ companies when buildings are torn down to make way for the new downtown arena,” says Knight.

A spirited venture

Jack and Zita Rosen put the entire Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on a chartered plane and flew some 65 musicians to Fort McMurray.

Actually, it was the spirit of the couple, who married in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, that flew north the musicians and representatives of the Art Gallery of Alberta.

“My parents opened Northern Groceries and Hardware in Flin Flon, Man., and initially traded with trappers and fishermen,” says their son Robert (Bob) Rosen. “They later owned three sawmills and moved to Edmonton in 1949 in search of better educational opportunities for myself and my sisters Shirley and Beverly.”

The couple also brought with them a sawmill, a planer and a crew of 14, the basic ingredients that led to the founding of what became City Lumber and Millwork.

“Our company is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year and I thought of my parents values when thinking of how to mark the birthday,” says Rosen, who was reticent to talk of the altruistic anniversary celebrations.

“They were quiet, understated people and I knew they would want to do something for children and communities who were less fortunate.”

Some 1,200 people attended the concert on a Fort McMurray sports field, with proceeds benefiting a family crisis centre. Aboriginal children were invited free of charge and bused in.

It was former Syncrude president Jim Carter who noted without the oilsands, fewer Alberta companies would be successful. He steered Rosen toward Fort McMurray, where City Limber had many business partners.

Syncrude, Enbridge, WorleyParsons engineers and the city of Fort McMurray helped fund the venture, that saw the art gallery stage an exhibition.

Another City Lumber birthday initiative saw about 120 children invited by the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers and Big Sisters clubs enjoy a day with the ESO, the Citadel Theatre, the Art Gallery of Alberta and a drumming workshop.

“Our vision was to give every child a dream and hope that one day some might turn to an art form rather than hang out at a mall or get into a fight,” says Rosen.

“They watched a theatre production and played a musical instrument and went home thinking ‘somebody cares’.”

via Lees: Builders demanding eco-friendly demolition firms.