Every weekday at noon, Linda Kilgore sits on a bench in the sun, unfolds the paper around a sandwich and watches bulldozers shuffle wood and brick on a dusty downtown construction site.
She is one of many spectators who enjoy gawking at two downtown demolition projects on the 600 and 700 blocks of Market Street.
“It has been interesting to watch the old turn into new, to see the old buildings you grew up with come down,” said Ms. Kilgore, who works at Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union.
Staff Photo by Dan Henry-- James Hopkins waits in front of a large pile of recycled material for a dump truck to pick up as demolition continues Tuesday on the former EPB site off Market Street.
Ms. Kilgore said she feels a weird excitement watching something that seems so permanent tumble to the ground into a heap of rubble.
What Ms. Kilgore and other curious onlookers don’t know is that the two Market Street construction sites — the old EPB building on the 600 block and the former 700 block buildings — are greener than they look.
Rising energy costs have driven construction companies to re-evaluate the way they tear down and build, officials said. Instead of shipping tons of raw materials to a landfill, developers are more interested in what they can save and reuse in the building process.
Construction workers at both sites on Market Street are recycling large amounts of the former buildings’ materials, following a growing trend of environmentally friendly demolition and construction in the Chattanooga area, officials said.
Seventy-five percent of the demolished buildings on the 700 block of Market Street are being recycled, said Trey Stanley, president of Smyrna, Ga.-based Trafalgar Development Corp., which is developing the mixed-use complex being built at the site.
From the former EPB building at Sixth and Market Streets, construction crews have:
* recycled 100,000 pounds of steel
* recycled 10,000 pounds of copper
* generated 4,500 tons of fill from recycled brick and concrete.
From the former buildings on 700 Block of Market Street, construction crews have:
8 recycled 90 percent of all metals in the building
* recycled 75 percent of all building materials.
What is being saved?
Source: Unum and Trafalgar Development Corp.
The larger wood timbers in the building are being stockpiled to be reused in later developments, and smaller wood pieces — those under 8 feet — are being sold to furniture makers, he said. The limestone and marble blocks on front of one building will be saved for later projects, he said.
Also, 90 percent of the metal is being recycled, he said.
“We have taken everything on that site and seen what we can reuse here,” he said. “If you follow the cost of energy in the world today, it just makes sense.”
When constructing the new building, company officials will pursue gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the second highest certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, Mr. Stanley said.
A few blocks down from the demolition, where the old EPB building used to stand, 4,500 tons of brick and concrete are being ground down to use in the construction of a new Unum parking area, said Mary Clarke Guenther, a spokeswoman for the company.
In addition, Unum has plans to catch storm water runoff in an underground tank to irrigate the Unum property, she said.
“We want to be good corporate citizens, and we look for environmentally friendly methods for all aspects of our business,” Ms. Guenther said.
Green construction and demolition has increased in popularity in the last year, said Ethan Collier, owner of Collier Construction, a company that has been involved in residential green projects for six years.
“Not only is it not going on a landfill, it is not being put on a truck and driven down our streets, the smell and fuel being used,” he said.
In the past, many construction companies did not evaluate material waste, said Collier said. Instead, everything was treated like garbage and hauled to a landfill, he said.
Construction companies were passed down generation to generation and few methods were changed, he said.
“The construction industry is a good-old-boy thing,” he said.
But as energy costs increase for developers and construction companies, many are looking for alternatives, he said. Recycling efforts such as the ones on Market Street can save companies tens of thousands of dollars, he said.
Mr. Stanley said he has not counted the savings on recycling efforts, but he said the condominiums built on the site will provide a 25 percent savings on energy costs compared to a traditionally constructed space.
“We didn’t really think of it from a cost perspective,” he said. “It is just the right thing to do.”
Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...