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Sustainability Integral to the Demolition Preceding the New YMCA

The Wenatchee Valley YMCA is in the process of moving to a new home on the northern portion of the Chelan PUD’s former 5th Street campus headquarters. Specifically, the PUD’s tech shop and service administration building are being demolished to make way for the new 50,000 square foot YMCA that will be able to serve, each year, several thousand more residents with diverse abilities, needs and means.

Bird's eye view of future YMCA.

One of the first major steps along the path to building the new YMCA, the demolition of two PUD structures, is focused on sustainability. Following a principle of environmental and social responsibility, the YMCA poses an example to the community of how sustainable development can occur.

The buildings were not completely empty when the YMCA acquired them. “There was a lot of older office equipment that was reusable,” said Dorry Foster, YMCA’s CEO. “We notified and allowed our nonprofit partners and churches to come and take what they wanted before the demo started.”

For the demolition, the YMCA has contracted with Vancouver, Washington based 3 Kings Environmental, which prioritizes minimizing waste through recycling demolition material and environmentally-friendly deconstruction techniques. 3 Kings’ values are represented by their motto, “Making Way for a Better Tomorrow.”

While these practices, considered part of a circular economy framework, are currently not standard across the construction and demolition industry, seeking ways to divert materials from landfills is critical because it saves natural resources, decreases greenhouse gas emissions, reduces the need for landfill space, and it also saves money.

Salvage and recycling can capture a host of materials such as wood, metal and concrete.

“During the demolition process, our skilled operators take time separating all salvageable items such as structural beams, metal conduits, HVAC ductwork, and other items that can be diverted from the landfill,” explained Vladimir Nesterkin, Project Manager for 3 Kings Environmental. 

Workers remove shiplap wood paneling and tongue and groove boards from the tech shop.

The company has a partnership with Vintage Reclaimed which accepts wood products such as beams, planks and boards. The wood is then used for custom woodworking products.

“The metal is separated into two categories, ferrous, and non ferrous metals,” said Nesterkin. “The copper and brass (non-ferrous) materials were taken to Metro Metals in Tacoma to be recycled. All the other ferrous metals are being taken to Wenatchee Valley Salvage & Recycling. To date we have recycled a total of 224 tons of steel!!”

The term deconstruction refers to a more methodical approach to dismantling a building, a far cry from the vision of a wrecking ball bringing walls crashing down. Nesterkin gave an example, saying, “if you are removing a structure that is slab on grade and has exterior concrete walls, the heavy equipment operator would remove the wood structure components, then clean the slab of any remaining debris by mechanical means, and then broom sweeping. This minimizes the amount of debris that will be mixed with concrete materials that would then need to be hand-picked. 

“Once the area is clean of all debris, the operator can safely bring the wall down in sections and begin to process the concrete, removing rebar or other elements. Laborers will help to pick up miscellaneous debris by hand if needed.”

3 Kings will crush the concrete onsite and use it as backfill, saving transportation and material costs. Everything taken together, the combined value of all the available salvage elevated the 3 Kings bid to be the most competitive, winning them the project.

The community’s health will evade harm thanks to the safety practices that are a part of the demolition. For one, asbestos containing material (ACM) was present in the buildings. “3 Kings Environmental took the necessary precautions during the abatement process to remove all identified ACM in compliance with the regulatory agency's standards, then transported and legally disposed of materials at an approved state facility,” said Nesterkin.”

Additionally, dust mitigation is crucial to minimize soil and groundwater contamination and to reduce airborne silica particulates. 3 Kings has a site specific Safety and Health plan, and, as Nesterkin explained, “We have dedicated personnel on site that spray water on debris as they are being processed and during the loading into containers. All of our trucks leaving the site are tarped so as to prevent any spread on the public right of way.”

The new construction will also incorporate sustainability elements, but for now, the demolition process of the PUD structures is showcasing how the environment does not have to pay a high price for the sake of locally valuable development. “Being environmentally conservative is a core value of mine personally,” said Foster. “Making sure we at the Y did everything within our budget to mitigate this impact was a principle element in our decisions.”

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